Why The Noninerrantists Are Not Listening: Six Tactical Errors Evangelicals Commit -- By: Michael Bauman

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 29:3 (Sep 1986)
Article: Why The Noninerrantists Are Not Listening: Six Tactical Errors Evangelicals Commit
Author: Michael Bauman

Why The Noninerrantists Are Not Listening:
Six Tactical Errors Evangelicals Commit

Michael Bauman*

He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all.

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aids to Reflection

The doctrinal basis of our Society’s unity rests in part upon the very proper assertion that the Bible is an inspired book, inerrant in the autographs. This commitment to the authority and accuracy of the Bible is a belief we value highly, one we desire to share with those outside our circle, and one concerning which we repeatedly endeavor to convince them. Yet despite our long-term and massive commitment in that direction, despite our meticulous historical, theological and exegetical treatments of the data, the yield in number of converts to our position remains abysmally meager. In fact, if personal impressions can be trusted it seems that more defections occur in their direction than in ours. Some of these defections we knowingly and willingly support by official decision. Some we do not. Of the former I shall not speak. But why, after we have expended so much effort getting them in the fold—and after getting them there, keeping them there—why do they yet reject us? “What’s wrong with those noninerrantists?” we ask ourselves. “Can’t they recognize truth? Don’t they know compelling arguments when they see them?”

Perhaps they do. Perhaps what they see and read from us is not so convincing as we think it is. Perhaps flaws in arguments are like headlights on a dark highway—everyone else’s seem brighter and more glaring than our own. That at least is the contention of this essay. Our fundamental position I believe to be sound. Our arguments for it occasionally are not so. After a brief disclaimer, to those failings I presently will turn.

First, the disclaimer. If it is not already clear, I must reiterate that I am not challenging the accuracy or authority of Scripture, which is inviolable. Rather, I am questioning our methods of defending and propagating it, which are not. If I find some aspects of our case for inerrancy less than convincing and can explain why, then we might possibly be able to identify, and to correct, some of the tactical lapses in our dealings with noninerrantists. In the end we might also discover, if we had not already suspected it, that the reason non-inerrantists refuse to line up with us on this important issue is not because they are stupid, dishonest, narrow-minded, or reprobate. Perhaps we have not yet made the convincing case we think we have. I, for one, believe some of our

*Michael Bauman is assistant professor of hist...

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