Warning: “Inerrancy” Means We Can’t Trust the Bible

Thanks to AiG researcher Steve Golden for researching this information and coauthoring this blog post with me.

What a mess the church is in!

It’s important from time to time to examine the views of those who try to harmonize evolutionary ideas with God’s Word. We must understand how those of us who trust the Bible’s account of history should respond to them. Part of our mission is to warn the church about those who are undermining the authority of the Word of God.

Scot McKnight recently published an article series on the BioLogos website. He is a professor of religious studies at North Park University in Chicago. Before that, he was professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, where he also earned his master’s degree.

Dr. McKnight was a speaker at the recent Biologos Theology of Celebration workshop held in New York City, and this article series is the printed version of his lecture. Tim Keller and John Ortberg also spoke at the conference. Additionally, Dr. McKnight has been invited to speak at the upcoming Pastorum Live conference, put on by Logos Bible Software.

Dr. McKnight blatantly denies the historical trustworthiness of Genesis. In fact, his denial of biblical inerrancy is more blatant than we usually see from the BioLogos crowd. He writes, “Many Christians grow up with a view of Scripture that it is inerrant, and that means for them … that it is not only true but that is more or less magically true—true beyond its time, true when everything else says something else.”

Before I discuss this statement, I wanted to share another statement from Dr. McKnight regarding the “plain reading” of Scripture:

Connected to this view of inerrancy is a view of Bible reading that takes a sound Christian idea called the perspicuity of Scripture, that the Bible’s message is clear to any able-minded Bible reader, and ratchets it up one notch so that the Bible reader thinks whatever I see in the Bible is what the Bible is saying.

If you as a Christian believe the Bible is inerrant, you’re saying it is without error. And as a creationist, I read the Bible plainly, trusting that I can believe and understand what I read. It’s unreasonable to say that inerrancy and a plain reading of Scripture leads Christians to believe falsehoods as though they are “magically true.” But what is Dr. McKnight referring to specifically here? He writes, “One of which views is that the Bible teaches science in Genesis 1–2.”

Dr. McKnight has not approached Scripture believing it to be inerrant. He has a bias of millions of years and molecules-to-man evolution, and he wants to make the Bible fit into that bias by changing the meaning of inerrancy! Either the Bible is without error or it isn’t. Who are we to pick and choose which parts of God’s Word are true? Those who attempt to do this are basically placing themselves above the Lord as if they get to decide what is truth.

But Dr. McKnight doesn’t stop at the Creation Week. He also accepts that there was death before the Fall, and he presents it as a biblical symbol! He writes, “My life has not permitted me to chase that one very deep into the tohu va-bohu but I do wonder if the ongoing cycle of life and death over millions of years, red in tooth and claw, is not a sacrament of resurrection and of God as giver and restorer of life—in an ongoing sacramental cycle.”

Dr. McKnight’s belief that death before the Fall is a symbol for God giving and restoring life runs counter to the Apostle Paul’s entire message in Romans 5: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (v. 12). The Apostle Paul certainly believed that death came with a literal Fall. Would Dr. McKnight argue that the Apostle Paul was so attached to inerrancy that he believed this to be “magically true”? Further, since God inspired Paul to write these words, would the Holy Spirit believe this to be “magically true”?

In fact, it seems that Dr. McKnight would also have to say that the Apostle Paul’s belief in Adam and Eve’s existence is a “magical” belief. McKnight writes, “In other words, if the common hypothesis [is] that our DNA owes to more than two people, the original couple, Adam and Eve, then maybe we have been reading ‘Adam’ wrong for a long, long time. In other words, what if Adam and Eve are understood more in archetypal terms, as we find in the work of John Walton.”

At this point, Dr. McKnight begins a game of turning major biblical characters and accounts (e.g., Jonah and the fish) into symbolic myths in order to prove his point—there was supposedly no historical Adam.

The Apostle Paul clearly believed Adam was real, as he indicates when he writes that it was through “one man” that sin entered the world and that Christ was the “last Adam” (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:45). But Dr. McKnight has this argument covered! He says Christians may try to claim that denying some parts of Scripture requires a denial of the rest, but, he writes, “Slippery slope arguments don’t work for me.”

Dr. McKnight’s response to this argument and to the inerrancy of Scripture reminds me of 2 Peter 3:5, where Peter says that in the last days, people will make themselves “willfully ignorant” of biblical truths, particularly regarding Creation, the Flood, and the return of Christ. That’s exactly what we see happening—in the church!

Scripture clearly indicates that Adam was real and that there was a literal creation and a literal Fall—there’s no doubt when one reads the text plainly. But man’s pagan religion of millions of years and evolutionary beliefs requires these compromisers to change meanings of words, to deny that the text really says what it does, and to claim that God cannot be fully trusted in the face of the “scientific facts” surrounding evolutionary claims.

Just what was Dr. McKnight’s point in speaking at the BioLogos conference and in publishing this series? He closed the article with a call for pastors, seminary professors, and other Christian leaders to participate in the BioLogos grant program, which seeks to reconcile the Bible with evolutionary ideas. I previously wrote a blog post on this on this topic.

A big part of AiG’s mission is to call the church out of compromise and back to the authority of the Word of God.

How sad it is that Logos Bible Software would use such a compromiser of God’s Word in their conference!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken