The Issue of Biblical Inerrancy in Definition and Defense -- By: William R. Eichhorst

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 10:1 (Winter 1969)
Article: The Issue of Biblical Inerrancy in Definition and Defense
Author: William R. Eichhorst

The Issue of Biblical Inerrancy in Definition and Defense

William R. Eichhorst

Dean of Faculty
Winnipeg Bible College


The past decade of intensive discussion over Biblical inerrancy has left this evangelical debate still largely unresolved. That it is primarily a discussion among evangelicals is evident. Liberal theologians have become so convinced of Biblical fallibility that inerrancy can no longer be equated with any form of inspiration in their theology. Writing about European theology in particular, Henry states,

On the Continent even the most conservative New Testament scholars tend to make concessions to biblical criticism not characteristic of American fundamentalism. No faculty member of the university related seminaries champions an inerrant Scripture.1

Helmut Thielicke, the famed Hamburg pastor and theologian, is an example of those who are willing to make such concessions. For all of his warmth and interest toward the American fundamentalists while on an American tour, he was nevertheless unable to give a conservative answer to the question put to him: “Are there errors in the Bible?”2 Expressing his surprise at the question he explains he had never heard it put in this form and was familiar with it at most in the history of theology as it was put forth in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.3 With reference to the Bible’s historical “errors” Thielicke remarks, “I could have enormously embarrassed my esteemed interlocutor by enumerating some very simple historical facts.”4

One would have wished, for the sake of discussion, that some erroneous “historical facts” had been produced on this occasion. But to Thielicke the case was closed and needed no further discussion.

To Evangelicals who have rejected the Neo-orthodox compromise on Scripture, the question of inerrancy still remains. For some time now the Evangelical Theological Society has been under pressure concerning this issue. Speaking to a meeting of the Society, Payne said:

Several times during the past year I have received critical inquiries as to what the Evangelical Theological Society means by saying, ‘The Bible is…inerrant’ in its doctrinal affirmation; the not so veiled suggestion of the inquirers was that if the E.T.S. would only adopt a more latitudinarian interpretation of inerrancy it could retrieve some of its errant colleagues.5

Some, wi...

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