I have just read an article at Cranmer’s Curate, Edmund Grindal and the need to uphold biblical inerrancy, with much interest.
In the course of his spiritual reflections at Wycliffe, it struck your curate forcibly that the need for a clear conviction about biblical inerrancy is the underlying issue facing the modern Church.
Inerrancy is essentially the conviction that the Bible does not err in the theological, moral and historical truths that the God of all truth wishes to reveal to mankind this side of the Second Coming.
The word ‘inerrancy’ is one that I never came across as a young Christian. I suspect it is the badge of a US position unfamiliar to me.
Nor do we need much familiarity with the fathers to know of the allegorical interpretations of the Old Testament by Origen and his school, but also that such an interpretation of Genesis could be regarded as ad litteram by Augustine.
But in some ways whatever hesitations we might have about this miss the point.
The question is really whether we take our rule of life and thought from the bible, or from some approved subset of the customs and shibboleths currently in vogue in the society in which we happen to live. Which of these twain is, for us, “the word of God”; “the laws of the Medes and the Persians”?
Those seem to be the real choices before us. And let us bear this in mind, in our own thoughts as much as in public debate.
There is much too much writing which presumes that Christians must prove things, which leaves silent what the alternative is and what, if any, justification there might be for it. It is possible, and common, for some to demand before agreeing that Christians must be able to prove X and Y and Z, to a level that a professor might find daunting, while at the same time accepting whatever is said on the TV evening news. It is not unknown for Christians to do this to themselves!
There is very little that can be said for the conformity position, of course. It is the lazy choice, usually, the path of least resistance, the path of convenience. Let’s remember that, before we criticise ourselves.