What’s So Bad About Inerrancy?
Greg Boyd, in an essay written prior to the 2002 ETS meeting where Dr.’s Clark Pinnock and James Sanders were being considered for expulsion from the society for “denying” inerrancy:
“My name if Greg Boyd. I am an open theist and I proudly affirm the inerrancy of Scripture!
Like Pinnock and Sanders, I have held that ‘the future is partially open'(emphasis mine) for almost 20 years. Never once during that time- including this last year – has is ever occurred to me that my view was inconsistent with the inerrancy of Scripture. Similarly, multitudes of others prior to the modern openness movement has held to the open view while embracing the inerrancy of Scripture. Indeed, all of us have embraced the partial openness of the future ‘precisely because (emphasis his) we affirm the inerrancy of Scripture.”
<<< Love that! >>>
“Yet despite our explicit affirmation, the ETS is soon going to vote on the charge that Pinnock and Sanders – and by implication (so he says) don’t really believe in inerrancy. … Though I have thoroughly studied the explicit charges raised against Pinnock and Sanders by Roger Nicole, and though I have concerned my self with all published critiques along these lines, I confessed to being ‘utterly’ mystified by this state of affairs.”
“In this paper I shall briefly consider the two main arguments that purport to demonstrate that openness and inerrancy are incompatible. I shall offer four responses to each of these arguments which demonstrate that these objections are irrelevant to the issue of inerrancy, on the one hand, and without foundation even if they were relevant, on the other.”
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That, against the howl of some more youthful voices that declare for open theism saying, that “inerrancy” has nothing to do with it. Mostly those who became “open theists” after the publication of “The Openness of God” in 1994.
Two points can be made here. First, at the time of it publication, many, like Boyd believed in the inerrancy of Scripture and felt, evidently like Boyd, that the books subtitle: “A Biblical Challenge of Traditional Understandings of God” implied that the authors also believed (as Greg said they did) in the inerrancy of Scripture.
Second, it seems that Dr. Boyd’s affirmation notwithstanding, it is abundantly clear in hindsight that Dr. Pinnock had, in years prior been on more of a pilgrimage from Augustine to Arminius. He had also gone from stalwart defender of Biblical Inerrancy to a view that, even at the time of the publication of “The Openness of God, had cast off that view. (See for instance the enclosed PDF below).
Upshot I: I believe that Dr. Boyd’s intention in his 2002 essay to the ETS defending his colleagues was noble. One cannot fault loyalty to ones friends or colleagues. But in the broad light of day, the catalogue of Dr. Pinnock’s published statements tell us a different story.
Upshot II: There has been a significant amount of “re-working” of what “Biblical Challenge” means presently. And some are trying to say that it never did mean “Inerrancy”. Some even wax vitriolic in the displeasure that the concept of “inerrancy” still lingers as a relevant consideration in speaking of “Open Theism”. Some recent “openness” spin off groups make it a “value added” point that they do not believe in inerrancy of Scripture but have adopted “higher critical” views.
If you/we are going to advocate “Open Theism” then we need to be cognizant of the facts of what people say they believe about Scripture, when they said it. Furthermore, we need to realize that, like it or not, justifiably or not, we have been characterized as followers of Pinnock’s denial of the inerrancy of Scripture.
Boyd, again: “Never once during that time- including this last year – has is ever occurred to me that my view was inconsistent with the inerrancy of Scripture. Similarly, multitudes of others prior to the modern openness movement has held to the open view while embracing the inerrancy of Scripture.”
There are multitudes who are coming to the “openness” view who have the same understanding of the inerrancy of Scripture. Those who are current proponents of Open Theism need own the history of how integral affirming the inerrancy of Scripture was at its beginning how ever distant they are from that now.