Inerrancy – A WTS Reminder

by Reed DePace

This past week I received a mailing from my alma mater, Westminster Theological Seminary. Sent to all teaching elders in the PCA, it included a cover letter from Dr. David B. Garner (asc. prof., syst. theo.) and a DVD on the subject of inerrancy.

The DVD provides a summary WTS’s defense of the doctrine of inerrancy. It includes three parts: 1) Dr. Garner’s introduction and then narration of the subject matter on the DVD, 2) WTS board-member Dr. Harry Reeder’s explanation of the seriousness of the need to defend inerrancy yet again in our current era, and 3) Dr. Vern Poythress’s explanation of WTS’ document, Affirmations and Denials on the Doctrine of Scripture.

This document was adopted by the Board of WTS in December, 2008. Since then it has been adopted by some PCA Presbyteries as a helpful clarification of chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith in relation to the recent attacks on the doctrine of inerrancy.

If you are a TE in the PCA, I urge you to consider taking two actions: 1) watching and listening to the DVD you’ve received from WTS, and 2) taking action to have your presbytery adopt this statement as a response to the current attacks on inerrancy. If you are not a PCA TE, I urge you to recommend these actions to any PCA TE’s you know.

We need to stand up now and defend this most vital doctrine of our faith. A whole new generation is in jeopardy. Let it not be said that our faith was faithless in response to this threat against God’s veracity.

by Reed DePace

Inerrancy: Rocky Mountain Presbytery’s Statement on Scripture

Been trying to find time to make a couple of other posts on inerrancy (e.g., necessity of historic Adam, inerrancy bibliography.) Yet seems that the busy-ness in Lane’s September has spilled over and rolled down hill to Alabama ;-)

In the meantime, here is a recent statement on the nature of Scripture, adopted by our brothers in Rocky Mountain Presbytery, PCA. Without any particular comments at this time, I post it here for a moment of reflection and consideration (as reported at The Aquila Report). It does appear to touch on all the hot button issues we’ve discussed.

Rocky Mountain Presbytery Adopts Pastoral Letter on Affirmations and Denial on Scripture

Reed De Pace

Incoherent Inerrancy

Recently a few of the threads here have become, at least partly, directed toward a dominant tangent. This is the issue of the adjustment to the biblical doctrine of inerrancy offered by Dr. Peter Enns (Inspiration and Incarnation) and others.

What I’ve read in comments here at GB supports what I’ve learned already about this position. Its proponents want to maintain the following three points:

1. The Bible contains non-incidental errors.
2. The Bible itself is inerrant.
3. This is not a contradiction.

I won’t go into all the proper tweaking and explaining that needs to be attached to these in order to fairly understand these brothers. The critical thing to note is that they are arguing that the Bible does contain errors that are non-incidental; errors that necessarily impact the exegesis of doctrine.

Nor do I want to spend time noting the adjustments in definitions that these brothers make. This is most particularly with reference to what “inerrant” means.

Rather I want to speak as a pastor to these brothers, and ask them to consider their brothers and sisters in the pew. There are many more readers of this blog than posters. From the notes I’ve received, I’m pretty confident in saying that many of them are laypeople who come here looking for advice, insight, and help with questions that are bugging them. (I’m sure Lane and the other moderators will affirm that this is their take as well.)

Brothers, I have one word to summarize what I hear you saying: incoherent. No, I’m not saying that bits and pieces don’t make sense. Nor am I saying I do not track with your arguments. I do.

Nor am I ignorant of the underlying conversation. I graduated from WTS in ’99. I sat under, with respect and appreciation, Enns and the rest of the faculty, including: Green, Taylor, Groves, Kelly, (These fathers named merely because y’all often reference them in support of Enns. The rest of the faculty has my gratefulness as well.) I listened carefully. I followed what they were saying. While I don’t propose to be as bright as some, the mostly “A”‘s I received in class, I dare say, we’re not given because of their kindness.

As well, I’ve read I&I, and a host of other documents referenced in these conversations. All this to say, while I’m never going to be the next generation’s Sproul (Edwards, Owen, take your historical pick); I’m not a slouch who has it all figured out and is not interested in listening to anyone who disagrees with him.

If I find you arguments incoherent, what do you think the average layperson hears when they read what you’ve written? One of you recently actually said, in the same paragraph, the Bible has errors, and the Bible is inerrant. (A fair paraphrase.) The context of those statements did not remove the onus present in this summary.

Brothers, assume for a second your position is right, and it will be a blessing to the Church in the future. Does not the significance of the subject (the only rule for faith and practice, THE source of spiritual food for the people of God) necessitate more care and caution on your parts?

Your arguments are not as well thought out and erudite as you think. You have not yet listened carefully enough to your critics. It will not do to maintain as one of your standard retorts, “You’re not understanding what I am saying” (in multiple variations, a continual response from y’all.) Even if this were true (it is at times, and in some quarters, but not as generally as y’all want to think), even it were inerrantly true :) – does this not suggest a greater burden on your part to gentleness, patience, and longsuffering?

Now, yes, I do recognize that some of you do evidence these qualities at times. Yet y’all are not considering that even when you’re not “fending off the opponent” you speak with an incoherency to the broader Church. It is as if y’all have figured out the secret password, been admitted to the club, and now spend your time speaking gibberish to others outside the club – all under the motive of helping them gain admittance too.

I will let the cat of the bag so to speak, in terms of my convictions and fear. I have learned and accepted bits and pieces of arguments from your side. Yet I do not see your fundamental point. Rather, I believe your position is only supported via the use of a post-modern influenced redefinition of words and concepts. You are wrong, and this will be shown in time.

My fear is that you are starting another battle for the Bible. I know this is not what you say you want – but that is how you are proceeding.

For myself, I am gripped by the fear of both my own weaknesses, and my calling to protect the sheep from error. I pray you likewise be gripped more by the fear of your weaknesses and the calling of your discipleship.

I recognize my words here cannot help but to offer offense. I do not do so casually. I hope I’ve not been careless. I also recognize that for some of you, your first reaction will be just that: reaction.

Please though, pause and consider how incoherent this sounds: error-laden inerrancy. This is how you sound.

– Reed DePace