Monday, September 19, 2011

Inerrancy and hermeneutics

The Licona controversy raises the question of how, if at all, inerrancy and hermeneutics are interrelated. On the one hand, commitment to inerrancy doesn’t select for any particular interpretation of any particular verse.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean they’re unrelated. If you affirm or deny the inerrancy of Scripture, then your respective position will affect your interpretive options. If you deny the inerrancy of Scripture, then you allow for far more diversity in the teaching of Scripture. Rival traditions.

You’re open to the possibility or probability that if a passage of Scripture doesn’t seem to make sense, then that’s because it really doesn’t make sense. Bible writers make mistakes. Contradict themselves. Contradict each other. Fail to think clearly or express themselves.

As a result, you’ll often end up with different interpretations. You won’t try as hard to make sense of a difficult passage. You will feel free to reject the ostensible sitz-im-leben, postulate a different sitz-im-leben, then interpret the text in light of your postulated sitz-im-leben.

If you affirm or deny inerrancy, each position will set different interpretive parameters. 


  1. I guess this kind of sets the foundation for believing that not one Word of God will fall to the ground or fail Him:

    "...If you affirm or deny inerrancy, each position will set different interpretive parameters."

    Every position will be affirmed at one's passing! What affirmation awaits, is the real question?

    In the mean time, Jesus went to the slaughter silent opening not His mouth so we can open ours! :)

    Act 8:32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth.
    Act 8:33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth."
    Act 8:34 And the eunuch said to Philip, "About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?"
    Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

    Thank you for opening yours!

  2. And here we have the same but from the Old Testament. Scroll down to Peter Naylor's article:

  3. I've been debating this very point with myself recently. I started teaching a class on hermeneutics a couple of weeks ago at church - tonight is class three. I'm paying particular attention to building the presups that contribute to a solid conservative hermeneutic. I hadn't originally planned on touching inerrancy, but it seems as though it means more than I originally planned. I may have to come back and dedicate an entire quarter to it after this class is over, but I'll have to include a brief apologetic of it in the more foundational classes because of its limiting effect on the scope of hermeneutical principles.

    I'll probably go the route of defining an apologetic under the questions, "Has God intended to communicate honestly with us?" and, "What answer to that question results in a consistent revelation of God to us?"

    Where honesty doesn't always generate perfect clarity to limited minds (think Trinity), I can't think of any other way God could have told us that dead saints really were raised when Jesus was crucified. Why assume Matthew is mingling genres? (Which leaves me with reevaluating Rev 20. I may end up an amil yet.)