New Book on Inerrancy

There is practically a cottage industry now in books on inerrancy in evangelical circles. This newest one is a full-blown critique of Pete Enns’s book. *munching on popcorn* (not trying to be flippant), but it is a very interesting debate, and one that will no doubt continue on into the future. Reformed folk will do well to study these issues very carefully. Beale’s book will undoubtedly be an important book to read in this regard.

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36 Comments

  1. November 24, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Beale is a busy man. This is his second book to be published this year. He also has a book on idolatry, published earlier this year.

  2. ReformedSinner said,

    November 25, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I think after his massive commentary on the Revelations he realized he can write anything… :)

  3. David Sanger said,

    November 25, 2008 at 10:43 am

    #2 er, you mean Revelation right? Sorry, its a pet peave of mine.

  4. Todd said,

    November 25, 2008 at 10:46 am

    # 3 er, you mean peeve, right? :-)

  5. November 26, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Does this respond to ATB McGowan?

  6. greenbaggins said,

    November 26, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I don’t know, Daniel. It is primarily a response to Enns, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t also look at McGowan. Of course, McGowan’s book was written later, and may have been published too late for Beale to consider.

  7. November 27, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Somewhat off topic, but I managed to find a copy of Edward Welch’s book on Depression that you recommended to me some time ago; read the first section and it seems very good.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    November 27, 2008 at 11:12 am

    I have confirmed that Beale does not deal with McGowan (McGowan’s book undoubtedly came out too late for Beale to deal with it).

  9. November 27, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Thanks; I suspected that was the case.

  10. Richard said,

    November 29, 2008 at 4:19 am

    Lane, is Beale arguing for the inerrancy of the ‘original’ autographs which I have no problem with save to ponder what precisely consitutes the ‘original’ autographs. Or is he arguing for the inerrancy of the textual witnesses, which I can’t really see a scholar of Beale’s standing to do.

    I think I will have to read Beale’s book… ;-)

  11. December 1, 2008 at 9:37 am

    If I may give a quick answer to Richard’s question that turns into some general reflections of mine on Beale’s book. I know many here disagree with me. I do not share my thoughts simply to anger people, but because (in theory at least) this is a forum in which you all want to have discussion. Perhaps a dissenting opinion can make this more informative (and edifying?) for all involved?

    Richard,

    Though not directly answering your question, the book is simply a collection of previously-published review essays/articles with (perhaps) very minor updating. The introduction appears to be the only thing actually written for this book. As best I can tell, Beale would argue for the inerrancy of the autographs. At the same time, functionally he (like most evangelicals) tends to elide the “autographs” (a dubious notion) with the forms of the texts we have now…except when it is convenient to distinguish in order to deal with “messy” parts of our received texts that do not square with our pre-conceptions of what the Bible must be in order to be God’s Word.

    The most interesting part of the book is how Beale does not discuss, but rather assumes!, the issues Enns and others are trying to discuss—mainly, evangelicalism’s captivity to modernism and rationalism. You see this in Beale’s explicit framing of his approach: how could the Bible be inaccurate and still authoritative and trustworthy concerning salvation and morality? (the blurb also frames things this way) For Beale, of course, this is purely rhetorical as he assumes (and even says) the Bible CANNOT be inaccurate and still authoritative in salvation and morality.

    PLEASE NOTE, this is not an argument but, rather, begging-the-question at the exact point where many within evangelicalism want to have a discussion. A ready answer comes to my mind, by the way. The Bible can be “inaccurate” and still authoritative BECAUSE perhaps God intends it to be that way. Beale and, it appears, many others within evangelicalism are unwilling to allow God to challenge their very conceptions of what the Bible MUST BE in order to be God’s Word. Just for fun, from my point of view this Beale-approach is the Liberal one since it explicitly decides ahead of time what God is allowed to do…God is bound by our modernist-rationalist ideas about reality.

    Related to all this, I remain unclear on how post-modernism is any more opposed to the Gospel than the fundamentalist-modernism within which much of the American Evangelical world consciously locates itself and through which it understands God, Christ, the Gospel, the Word, etc. I continue to think the main reason (not necessarily the stated reason) so many evangelicals react to post-modernism is its call to searching self-criticism that unmasks many of the power-interests behind various modernist (including evangelical!) projects, institutions, authority-structures, etc. Before anyone jumps at this point, that the same call extends to various so-called post-modernists does not invalidate the fruits of such searching critiques.

  12. GLW Johnson said,

    December 1, 2008 at 9:51 am

    FTH
    I think I pointed this out to you on a earlier post-but Mormon Missionaries will be happy as pigs in slop with your approach-’Hey, don’t worry about the historical difficulties in the Book of Mormon because God intended it that way!’ Geez, if its not FV thumbing their collective noses at the entire Reformed world, its pomos advancing the latest liberal agenga on why the Bible is a flawed human book.

  13. December 1, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Mormons can also sign on to the Evangelical Theological Society’s statement…if I am not mistaken. That said, I have not looked at it for a while since I generally do not care what the Evangelical Theological Society does or says…

  14. December 1, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Ok, that comment came off a bit aggressive. I intended some bit of sarcasm in it as I imagine you too have problems with ETS…

  15. December 1, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Also, is it an acceptable argument to imply that since that X people (who are “bad”) might agree with Y-people, Y-people are somewhat misguided or wrong? I presume you know the name of this logical fallacy since you were on the debate team…? : ) Catholics might also “be happy as pigs in slop” with our doctrines of the Christ’s divinity and virgin birth.

    Lastly, perhaps I misunderstand you, but in what way am I associated with the FV? Just for fun, to my knowledge I have never read anything by an FV author, much less any pro-FV books or literature. Ok, I take that back, years back I read Norman Shepherd’s The Call of Grace. Is he FV? (I am being serious…this is a controversy I do not touch)

  16. GLW Johnson said,

    December 1, 2008 at 10:19 am

    FTH
    I was simply … Oh,never mind .You wouldn’t understand even if I drew you a picture.

  17. December 1, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Indeed, us Southerners are kinds stupid…

  18. GLW Johnson said,

    December 1, 2008 at 10:24 am

    FTH
    Hey, I resemble that remark!

  19. ReformedSinner said,

    December 1, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Modernism, rationalism… hhmmmm… I did not realize they were around when the apostles were planning churches…

  20. December 1, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    ReformedSinner,

    Indeed…tell Greg Beale.

  21. December 2, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Art has posted some thoughts on Beale’s new book: http://aboulet.com/2008/12/01/whats-the-deal-with-beale%E2%80%94redux/#comments

  22. GLW Johnson said,

    December 3, 2008 at 6:15 am

    FTH
    Art is still in seminary isn’t he? Well, for what it is worth Thomas R. Schreiner , professor of NT at Southern Baptist theological seminary said of Beale’s work, ” …a sturdy,convincing,and courageous defense of the accuracy and inerrancy of Scripture bolsters our assrance thaat God’s Word is true. Praise God for this scholarly and spirited defense of truth of Scripture.” Gerald Bray, Research professor of theology at Beeson Divinity School wrote, “at last, a leading Biblical scholar has produced a full-blown defense of Biblical inerrancy in a user-friendly style. This is just what is needed in the current debate and Beale has provided it magnificently.” John D. Currid ,professor of OT at RTS, Jackson declared that Beale’s book “.. is a must-read for our generation”. And David M. Howard, professor of OT at Bethel seminary said ” Beale’s book sounds a much-needed warning against abandoning our evangelical moorings. He presents invaluable original analyses to bolster his case in areas of his own specialties-early Judaism, hermeneutics, and the Old Testament in the New. I highly recommend this booK.” Art is in the M.A.R. program, right?

  23. December 3, 2008 at 6:28 am

    Jim Hamilton at SBTS has posted a really good summary of Greg Beale’s Crossway lecture at ETS. Beale makes the exegetical case for inerrancy. Here’s the link:

    http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2008/12/greg-beale-on-exegetical-basis-for.html

  24. ReformedSinner said,

    December 3, 2008 at 9:27 am

    I really don’t get it. Pete Enns’ work, according to Art and others, is a helpful book that will bring all sides together (just ignore right-wing nut cases like D.A. Carson, Gregory Beale, Richard Gaffin, Lane Tipton, David Helm, etc.) But Beale’s new book is destructive and will only cause divisions and animosity.

    And here I am thinking all Pete Enns (and his supporters) want to do is have a dialogue, but it seems every time someone opens a dialogues of disagreements with them then they are being “hateful, unhelpful, causes divisions and animosities.”

  25. Reed Here said,

    December 3, 2008 at 9:40 am

    RF:

    Uh, you we’re thinking you were supposed to get it?

    ;-)

  26. December 3, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Reed,

    Hmmm, considering Enns and those who agree with him think Beale, Tipton, the HTFC, Carson, Helm, etc., blatantly misrepresent Enns and aggressively misread him…I do not see said “right-wing” folk in any way trying to have a dialogue. The function of their work has been to label Enns as outside the bounds of acceptable dialogue.

    Give me a break, none among Beale, the HTFC, Helm, Carson, most here, etc., ever had or have any intention of having a serious DIALOGUE WITH Enns and those who agree with him. Focusing simply on the aspects of the discussion seen in the blogging world, I need only direct your attention to numerous threads on this very blog where most of you refuse to answer any of our questions, refuse to take up challenges we pose to your pseudo-critiques, etc. Rather you usually tell us “what is really going on,” actively change subjects, explain why you do not have to answer our questions, call us names, or respond with dismissive (sometimes caustic!) sarcasm.

  27. December 3, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Oops, my comment should have been directed to ReformedSinner. Yet another downside of all our interaction taking place via the impersonal medium of a blog with none of us ever having met each other and shared a meal/beer together…

  28. ReformedSinner said,

    December 3, 2008 at 11:19 am

    FTH,

    I don’t feel your comment is #26 is true at all, hence, my original critique. Maybe I am bias and I am definitely open to being challenged. However, I see anti-Enns gangs (for lack of a better label) earnestly tried to answer the questions posted by pro-Enns gangs. Now, of course there will be a few bad apples (from both sides I may add), but in reality sincere efforts have been put forward (in my judgment) by anti-Enns gangs on why they disapprove of him, and counter the numerous arguments made by pro-Enns gangs.

    However, the irony is I see less charity from pro-Enns gangs. They usually come with hostility, and make declarations more than they are making arguments (example: anti-Enns are a bunch of closed-minded bigots that are brainwashed to only follow tradition and can’t think for themselves.)

    Art’s review of Beale’s book is a good example. He has nothing but hostility towards that book. A real objective review will appreciate the scholarly work and research that Beale has done with the given subject, but still critique it with good logical arguments on why it falls short and why at the end of the day it may be helpful or unhelpful to the reader. But rather we get a total bashing of the book, and a conclusion that this book is destructive to the Evangelical faith. I’m sorry, but I can’t take a review like that seriously when it’s clear Art’s speaking off emotion, based on his presuppositional position on the subject given, and makes an uninformed and amateurish declaration on the effect of the book.

    At the end I stand by my conclusion: pro-Enns folks ask for charity and open-mindedness. But at the end of the day they already made up their mind that anti-Enns folks are closed-minded hostile biggots.

  29. December 3, 2008 at 11:31 am

    RS, I agree. In fairness it is not much of a review. I was hoping for something a bit more substantial than that.

  30. D G Hart said,

    December 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    FTH: the real problem here, in my estimation, is whether the pro-Enns people think the Bible actually teaches a system of doctrine. The anti-Enns people do believe the Bible does this. But the pro-Enns people have the heads so far up the SBL smokestack (bet you didn’t see that metaphor coming) that they really don’t pay attention to theological commitments that inform certain educational institutions and denominations. I get it that the pro-Enns folk think they are Reformed. But that understanding has very little reference to the actual creeds and catechisms, church polities, or liturgies of the Reformed faith. Enns’ own recent posting of quotations from Harvie Conn on his blog about the ephemerality of Reformed theology only confirms this point.

    As I’ve tried to say many times on different blogs, what was so alarming about I&I was not Enns’ effort to do justice to the humanity of Scripture. Biblical scholars have been doing that for over a century and Reformed theologians have been working out ways to accommodate the scholarship. What was alarming was Enns’ idea about the relativity of theology (I believe the quote was on 171 — maybe 169). For Enns the Bible and theology are all culturally bound and some kind of normative truth rarely seems to come out except for an idea that God intends all the obscurity and relativity. I just don’t see how on this view, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, or that the Westminster Standards summarize the system of doctrine taught in holy writ.

  31. Reed Here said,

    December 3, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Steve:

    No offense taken for no. 26, as I did make a brief comment echoing RS.

    The problem, Steve, is that it appears nothing short of absolute agreement with Enns is sufficient for an open dialogue. Take this only as an analogy, please:

    Suppose a Muslim were commenting here, and wanting open dialogue. Suppose he expresses himself politely, and to the point: ” your belief in Christ as Savior-God is a hersey straight from Satan himself.” Now, if we’re going to have open dialogue, our first (and seemingly only) response cannot be, “How dare you?! I’m so offended. You’re nasty.”

    Admittedly I am making a stark comparison (it’s not that bad most of the time). Yet my own conversations with Enn’s supporters (you excluded) have been more characteristic of this characterization than not.

    The problem is not on the side of those who want to critique Enns. The problem is on the side of (most of) those who support him. Sorry, buy Art is a typical example proving the rule.

    To end on a better note, I do note that Beale’s book flows from an on-going conversation they have been having, beginning with Beale’s review of I&I, to which Enns responded. This is a good thing. Let’s encourage Enns to seriously interact with Beale’s book, demonstrating where Beale reads him wrong, or accepting Beale’s criticism where accurate, and perfecting his own views.

    Simple responses, “you’re nasty,” are thankfully beneath Pete Enns and Greg Beale. Hopefully we all can emulate them.

  32. December 3, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Plenty to think about here. Perhaps I can get back to you all AFTER my Dead Sea Scrolls translation exam this evening. Then I can start hurling names such as the Wicked Priest and the Man of the Lie and, of course, the Teacher of Righteousness… : )

  33. Reed Here said,

    December 3, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    LOL

  34. ReformedSinner said,

    December 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Urgh, I still have nightmares on my Akkadian exam… I finally decided that I will stick with modern languages (except Hebrew and Koine Greek of course) after that nightmare semester on Akkadian.

  35. GLW Johnson said,

    December 4, 2008 at 6:40 am

    DG Hart, as he does more often than not, has hit the bull’s eye here. Enns does not exhibit any formal committment to confessional Reformed orthodoxy. Instead he conducts the proverbial ‘cherry-picking’ expedition attemping to find support for his views with randon quotes from the Reformed tradition. His use of Warfield on the human element in Scripture was evidence of this effort. Warfield explicitedly rejected the incarnation model that Enns was promoting but Enns still sought to bolster his case by attempting to enlist Warfield for his model. For those of us who had read BBW this was most frustrating . Despite the fact that this misconception has been pointed out over and over again, many of Enns’ faithful followers persist in claiming Warfield’s support.

  36. ReformedSinner said,

    December 4, 2008 at 8:26 am

    #35,

    I was wondering about the same thing when I read his quoting of Warfield. When I read Warfield I saw that Warfield specifically and explicitly reject the incarnational model as inadequate to describe Scripture.

    I don’t want to put the man on trial again but as a student listening to him I get much out of it in terms of OT scholarship and exegetical finesse, but one thing I’m sure I also get it right is that he proposes that “Reformed Orthodoxy” needs to change if we want to move forward. I used to say that to my classmates that’s, at the end of the day, what Pete Enns is teaching us.

    Good summary by Dr. Hart.


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