An Apologetic Approach To Hermeneutics And Inerrancy -- By: John Jacob Tollefsen

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 11:2 (Jan 2014)
Article: An Apologetic Approach To Hermeneutics And Inerrancy
Author: John Jacob Tollefsen


An Apologetic Approach To Hermeneutics And Inerrancy

John Jacob Tollefsen

J.D., LL.M.

Abstract. Reviews and criticizes challenges to the doctrine of inerrancy of Scripture from an evidentialist apologetic viewpoint. It concludes that inerrancy is taught by Scripture but cannot be fully proven. Although inerrancy is a critical doctrine like that of the Trinity, the exact language of the inerrancy creed is still problematical.

Skepticism over the reliability of the biblical text is not new. There have always been those who reject or modify the Scripture for their own purposes. Ever since the Reformer cried, “Sola Scriptura,” the enemies answered, “Nihil Scriptura.”

In 1660, Samuel Fisher (1605-65), a former Presbyterian, then Baptist, then Quaker, published The Rustick’s Alarm to the Rabbies, consisting of over 900 pages of biblical criticism. In it he argued that the text of the Bible had been hopelessly corrupted and the only true source of divine wisdom was the inner light. It is conjectured that Fisher met Spinoza in Amsterdam and may have provided inspiration for his similar arguments.1 Hobbes in Leviathon argued that Scripture was a human production and slavish devotion to sola scriptura could be misguided. He claimed the sovereign had the absolute right to interpret Scripture.2

The full force of skepticism and its overpowering influence on biblical criticism hit the late 19th century, a time when the western world was celebrating the progress of the human race. Many who had grown up in Christian families rejected traditional doctrines. The issue was dramatized in novels of the period. In one, the preacher’s wife leaves her husband because of complications resulting from his belief in hell. Preacher John Ward is in anguish and attempts to convince his wife to believe and stay, telling her Heaven would be Hell without her.

Helen came to him, and tried to put her arms about him. “Oh, my dear,” she said, “don’t you understand? I have heaven now, in your love. And for the rest, - oh, John, be content to leave it in Hands not limited to our poor ideas of justice. If there is a God, and He is good, He will not send me away from you in eternity; if He is wicked and cruel, as this theology makes Him, we do not want his heaven! We will go out into the outer darkness together.”

Later in the conversation, John says,

To say, in a word, if I could, why I lay such a stress on it, instead of some of the other doctrines of the church. It is because I do believe that salvation, eternal life, Helen, depends upon holding...

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