Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy. By R. Albert Mohler Jr., Peter Enns, Michael Bird, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, and John R. Franke. Edited by J. Merrick and Stephen M. Garrett. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013. 328 pp. Paper, $19.99.
Of the five authors, three have their doctorates from liberal schools (Enns, Harvard; Franke, Oxford; Vanhoozer, Cambridge). In addition, of the two editors, one has his doctorate from a liberal school (Merrick, Aberdeen). Thus it would not be surprising if many of the views expressed in this book do not uphold a high view of inerrancy.
Unlike other books which deal with three, four, or five views, this one does not actually lay out five separate views, as the editors explain on pages 24-25. The editors had all five participants write essays. Then the editors broke the essays into three different areas: inerrancy today as compared with inerrancy in the past (Mohler and Enns); the impact of inerrancy on international ministry; and “how inerrancy has been received and perceived within contemporary evangelicalism” (p. 24).
Before even reading the essays, I found myself disappointed. I wanted to see five distinct views. It appears that there may only be two views in this book: the conservative view (Mohler); and various liberal views that eviscerate inerrancy. While I do not agree with Mohler on the condition of everlasting life or the extent of the atonement, I am in strong agreement with him in this book.
Another disappointing aspect of this book is that all the authors were told to write essays in which they laid out their view and discuss three particular passages that seems to present problems for inerrancy: Judges 6 and the destruction of Jericho; Acts 9:7 and 22:9; and Deut 20:16-17 and Matt 5:43-48.
In the first place, I do not think those are difficult texts regarding inerrancy. Many more difficult problems could have been chosen.
In the second place, I would rather have each contributor develop his view with whatever texts he wished to raise. Having all five make comments on the same three texts seems to needlessly hamstring each contributor.
Mohler’s essay is worth the price of the book. It is very well done. Unlike much theological writing today, especially in books comparing different views on a subject, his article is easy to understand. He gives excellent quotations showing how far liberals go in their rejection and actual rewriting of the Bible.
Not surprisingly, the four responses by the other authors to Mohler are all quite negative. They can’t understand why he is so dogmatic, why he does not acknowledge that other views on inerrancy are equally valid, and why he leans so heavily on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI). I strongly recommend reading these four responses as well as Mohler’s essay.
(I agree with the criticism of Mohler made by several of the respondents that the view of inerrancy before 1978 and CSBI was not identical with CSBI. However, I think Mohler’s point is that until the last few centuries there was widespread agreement on a view of inerrancy that was at least similar to that of CSBI. In any case, we all would probably be wise to make our arguments based on Scripture, not on Scripture plus tradition.)
If one merely read the first 81 pages of this book, he would have a good overview of the issues and a strong case for inerrancy. However, this is but the first 25% of the book.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society