Inerrancy: A Place To Live -- By: John M. Frame

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 57:1 (Mar 2014)
Article: Inerrancy: A Place To Live
Author: John M. Frame

Inerrancy: A Place To Live

John M. Frame*

* John M. Frame holds the J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, 1231 Reformation Drive, Oviedo, FL 32765. This plenary address was delivered at the 65th annual meeting of the ETS, November 19, 2013, in Baltimore, MD.

For purposes of this paper, I define “inerrancy” simply as “propositional truth.” To say that a sentence is inerrant is simply to say that it is true, as opposed to false. To say that the Bible is inerrant is simply to say that it contains no false assertions.

Forty or fifty years ago, it was common for theologians to speak of biblical inerrancy as a “new” or “recent” doctrine. Their thesis was that although the church had always held to the authority of Scripture in a broad and general way, inerrancy was, as we like to say today, a product of modernity. Enlightenment rationalists had challenged the historicity and reliability of Scripture, and in reaction, according to this theory, orthodox Christians of the last two centuries or so insisted that Scripture was completely historical and reliable on all subjects it treats. That more pedantic and precise doctrine of biblical authority they called “inerrancy.” In this lecture I will not be discussing this issue, however, because I believe that the thesis that inerrancy is recent was thoroughly demolished by John D. Woodbridge in his book Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal.1

Now members of ETS have subscribed to inerrancy in the form, “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written, and is therefore inerrant in the autographs.” So I assume that most of you here today believe the doctrine of inerrancy. You do not believe it to be a recent theory, a speculation or overreaction to criticism, but to constitute one of the doctrines of orthodox Christianity. Further, since you believe that the doctrines of our faith are based on Scripture, you believe that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is itself a biblical doctrine.

But of course God’s word is our life. Biblical doctrines are not just propositions that we occasionally sign our names to, or that we recite on demand. Rather, they constitute the environment in which we live. The doctrine of the deity of Christ, for example, is not just a test of orthodoxy, but a place to stand against temptation. When Satan tells us he intends to rule our lives, we reply no, you may not. For we do not trust in ourselves to stand against you in our own strength. We trust only in Christ, and Christ is God.

So, similarly, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy pro...

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