In 1978 the Council on Biblical Inerrancy made up of evangelicals from across the church’s spectrum concluded by adopting the ICBI statement regarding the inerrancy of Scripture. J.I. Packer states, “belief in inerrancy determines the basic attitudes and procedures of exegetes as they do their detailed work, and so exercises a formative and stabilizing influence on the faith of the church.” That was the intent of the Council and especially as they adopted a historical statement, or maybe we could call it a restatement, on the topic of biblical inerrancy. But why was that council needed at that particular time?
There were many reasons, but they all focused around the topic of inerrancy. Up until that time you had the orthodox view of Scripture, the Liberal higher critical view, and the Neo-Orthodox view. Evangelical Protestants in the Reformed and Evangelical churches were generally united in holding to the doctrine of the complete, unlimited inerrancy. The Bible is the very word of God. For example, both the longer and shorter version of the ICBI statement say, “God, who is Himself the truth and speaks truth only, has inspired the Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.”
This book is important today because there is confusion, disagreement, and contradictions within the evangelical world on the Orthodox view of inerrancy. It contains three parts. The first deals with the ‘History of the Inerrancy Controversy’ which includes why the ICBI Chicago Statement on Inerrancy was adopted. Basically two views of inerrancy had developed, limited and unlimited. The ICBI and this book believe that the unlimited view of inerrancy is the right one.
Part two deals with the ‘Recent Challenges to Inerrancy,’ mind you not by liberals or neo-orthodox, but within evangelicalism. The authors’ critique in part two, eight well known men they seek to demonstrate, maintains a limited view of inerrancy. That is a section worth the price of the book.
Part three focuses on the ‘Reexamination of Inerrancy’ which reviews that topic in its historical and orthodox setting. If the Bible is true, is it only true in matters of redemption, the limited view, or is it true in all of its parts? Who would have thought among Reformed and evangelicals that such things as the ICBI Statement, even this book, would be a needed resource? Of course we know that the Scripture is and will always be under attack; therefore, as Christians, we are responsible to be able to defend the inerrancy of Scripture with those who challenge that position. For example: after reading this book I asked several people if they were aware of the difference within evangelicalism regarding limited and unlimited inerrancy. Some had read the ICBI Statement but were not aware of the two positions. I certainly commend this book to our church leaders and anyone who needs a good course or refresher course on inspiration and inerrancy.
Within the PCA, we believe our Westminster Confessional position is clear on this matter. With growing interest and commitment to theistic evolution by evangelicals, this book will also be a resource and challenge for dealing with that topic, at least biblically and philosophically.
Note: We will review Inerrancy and Worldview, Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible, by Vern Poythress, in the next edition of Equip to Disciple.