Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
CenQ 21:1 (Spring 1978) p. 42
The Debate About the Bible by Stephen T. Davis (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1977, 149 pp., $5.45, paper). Reviewed by Dr. Rolland D. McCune.
This is another of recent attempts to answer Harold Lindsell’s Battle For the Bible, a theological bombshell dropped on the New Evangelical community in 1976. Davis is a disappointment to anyone looking for a substantive, exegetical and theological reply to Linsell and others in the orthodox camp of Biblical inerrancy. The Bibliography, for example, makes no reference at all to B.B. Warfield, R. Laird Harris, John Murray and others who have written definitively in favor of verbal inerrancy. The author declares on several occasions that he is a philosopher, not a theologian or an exegete. With this confessed lack of credentials, one wonders why he is so outspoken against inerrancy which is clearly a theological and an exegetical matter. Davis fails to grasp this, however, for he clearly places inerrancy among “philosophical or apologetic notions” (p. 132).
As a philosopher and logician, Davis casts the debate over inerrancy in forms of logical syllogisms and logical illustrations taken from other realms, and on his terms succeeds in destroying verbal inerrancy. His chapter on “The Case Against Inerrancy,” in which he attempts to deal with the alleged errors in the Bible, is so unforgivably feeble and weak that Fundamental Bible scholars and teachers must weep. His failure to interact responsibly with the literature of Warfield, Edward J. Young, Charles Hodge and others reveals either a cavalier attitude toward the inerrancy champions of the past or an unfamiliarity with the real exegetical and theological factors involved in the debate,
The thrust of the book is to deny verbal inerrancy and still cling to Biblical infallibility. Davis initially defines infallibility to mean that the Bible is “entirely trustworthy on matters of faith and practice” (p. 15). Later this is modified to mean that the Bible never misleads one on matters that are “crucially relevant” to Christian faith and conduct (p. 118, emphasis his). When asked to state what criteria determine what is “crucially
CenQ 21:1 (Spring 1978) p. 43
relevant,” he is admittedly at a loss to respond satisfactorily (pp. 124-125). On epistemological grounds, he simply states that the matter is “not so serious after all” (p. 125). For one to be asked to stake his “Christian faith and conduct” and even his eternal destiny on such flimsy authority is an affront to the individual, the Gospel, and God. One could never be sure he wasn’t misled on the most important problem facing man today—salvation from his sin; and this is, after all, very serious indeed!
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