Book Plunge Part 3: Politely Rejecting the Bible

What about ICBI? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s not a shock that we got here so soon. Kapr is now talking about ICBI (International Council on Biblical Inerrancy) and the CSBI. (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.) At the same time, it is apparent that Kapr knows what’s going on, but at the same time, quite pleasing to see the language he used is the language I used in an ebook I co-authored with J.P. Holding called Defining Inerrancy.

For all interested, by the way, we are coming out with the second edition of that book.

While only referring to our work one time explicitly in this chapter, Kapr does use the language of contextualizers and traditionalists. He does focus in on the debate concerning my former father-in-law, though still a father in many ways to me, Mike Licona, and the passage about the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27. For the traditionalists, it had to be literal no matter what or you were defining inerrancy. For the contextualists like myself, it didn’t matter what it was. All inerrancy said is that whatever it was, it was true. Holding, for instance, does not think Licona has the strongest case there, but he still thinks his view does not violate inerrancy.

So this chapter was mainly about how inerrancy is, well, defined, and the idea is that the doctrine can seem to die the death of a thousand qualifications as it can become hard to falsify. I get that position, but at the same time, contextualists like myself look to authorial intent. Now if the case can be made strongly that the author intended to teach X and the truth is non-X, then that would be a problem for inerrancy. Contextualization doesn’t mean you can change the text to mean anything and it will be true. You still have to study the text to see what it is saying.

Unfortunately, Kapr does show that the traditionalist mode of handling inerrancy is very easy to attack. Contextualization requires a lot more work and study of the text. This will be expounded on more in the next chapter, but traditionalism is often married closely to literalism. Contextualists don’t deny that some passages are literal, but we don’t jump to that as always being the best interpretation of the passage.

For instance, when read about Jesus going into Samaria and sitting down by the well there, we generally take it to mean that that is what Jesus did. However, when Jesus starts talking about living water, we don’t take it to mean He is talking about actual water that can be drawn from the well. We take Him to be making a statement about the true life that is found in God and comparing it to an ordinary substance like water.

I do appreciate that Kapr chose to interact with our book to some degree anyway. (It’s a bit amusing to be reading a book and then see your work cited.) I do hope that he does interact with us more in the book. (Sneak peek. There is at least some of that in chapter four.) We will see what else lies in wait for us but thus far, the adventure has been pretty tame.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)