Monday, May 5, 2014

Is Inerrancy a Modernist Concept?


I am getting tired of hearing how the debate of inerrancy is merely a "modern" issue. Or that the idea that the Word of God is "certain" is a product of "modern Enlightenment", this is particularly common by some making arguments in the emerging/emergent church. A little exposure to church history might help us here:

I recently ran accross this section that I had highlighted in Richard Muller's Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2 Prolegomena.

"The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture stood, in the systems of the great thirteenth-century scholastics, Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure, Albert the Great, and Thomas Aquinas, in a profound and crucial relationship to the emerging concept of theology as a science...Logically derived conclusions, no matter how experty and precise the logic, cannot be endowed with certainty unless certainty is known to reside in the principles from which they have been drawn. But theology, as Aquianas recognized, is a subalternate science, the first principles of which are not self-evident but are derived from a higher science--the scientia Dei--that is not immediately known to us. If theology is to have certainty that must belong to any legititmate or genuine scientia, that certainty must be inherent in its first principles and in the source of those principles. If theology is to be a divine scientia, it must rest on revelation. Thus, Alexander of Hales could argue, "what is known by divine inspiration is recognized as more true (verius) than what is known by human reason, inasmuch as it is impossible for falsehood to be in inspiration while reason is infected with many..." page 42-43.

Later:

"Albert the Great similarly argued the higher certainty of theological science on the ground of the inspiration of Scripture: theology and theologians derive their authority from teh books inspired by "the Spirit of truth." Even so, it is not possible to doubt a single word of Scripture. Reason itself may fall into contradiction but Scripture stands against error as a foundation of truth higher than anything present within the human soul. Bonaventure, somewhat more simply, declares that teh authority of Scripture arises "not by human investigation but by divine revelation"; the Spirit, who is the author of Scripture, speaks neither falsehood nor superfluity. Anyone who contradicts Scripture thereforecontradicts uncreated truth itself. The scholastics' testimony to the infallibility of Scripture was, moreover, intimately bound up with the literal and grammatical foundation of the medieval fourfold exegesis." p.44.

Check out Muller's work and not the extensive footnotes for where the Medieval writers actual say these things. Even Muller's summations are extensively documented by original sources.

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