Sunday, October 10, 2010

Biblical Inerrancy: A First-Line of Defense

Inerrant the Wind: the Evangelical Crisis of Biblical Authority, 2009 is a modified republishing of Robert M Price's 1981 doctoral dissertation at Drew University. In it Price presents the sociological development of the pluriform debate over biblical inerrancy and biblical authority in Evangelical Christianity from the modernist-fundamentalist controversy until today (appendices).

In discussing the general non-use and frequent disdain for higher criticism among Evangelical defenders of inerrancy, he observes that "[i]nerrantist apologetics abound…[as] exercises in rationalizing a position taken on other grounds (p. 47). He goes on to state the following:

[Inerrantist apologetics] construe the authority of the Bible in such a way that historical criticism would be proscribed from the outset. If [the Bible] were held to be totally inerrant, then criticism would be pointless. No Bible believer would be tempted to use [higher criticism] to elucidate scripture any more than he would find a Sanskrit-to-English dictionary to use for this purpose. Thus inerrancy was intended as a bulwark to defend the Bible's authority, not as a reason for believing in biblical authority in the first place (p. 48).

Here Price notes that inerrancy is a self-defense mechanism, a means by which the believer in inerrancy can dismiss with higher criticism. Time and time again in dialogue with fundamentalists, I find that believers use self-defense mechanisms that allow them to dismiss of evidence that his incompatible with their world views. Instead of facing the facts, the fundamentalist will deem the information that I present or the sources that I recommend as though they were demonic or as though it was lacking in virtue to even consider them—thus making their faith and their worldviews too sacred to even face the outside world and realities beyond.

Last year I recommend Why Darwin Matters by Michael Shermer to a friend. This is an excellent book that is friendly to religion as the author goes to lengths to explain why the theory of evolution is compatible with Christian and theistic beliefs. She agreed to read it, but she refused to bring the book into her house. From what I recall, she preferred to keep the book in her garage or outside the house because she feared demonic influence, etc.

This is what I am talking about—the defense mechanisms that prevent those who need information to the contrary the most from encountering it. Such behaviors and beliefs, including the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, are dangerous and damning.

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