Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Inerrancy and evidentialism

I hesitate to do another post on the evidentialist/presuppositionalist debate because I don't wish to belabor the issue, but when I happen to be thinking about something, I tend to do a series of posts on the same topic because that's what I have on my mind. So here's one more post.

I recently said I like the evidentialist menu. In addition, evidentialists produce a lot of firstrate apologetic material. 

However, a fundamental problem with evidentialism is it's neutrality or noncommittal attitude about inerrancy. An evidentialist can affirm or deny inerrancy. Both positions are consistent with evidentialism.

But once you surrender inerrancy, you're free to surrender other biblical teachings. Anything that you feel is too awkward or inconvenient to defend. Anything that might be a stumbling block to people coming to the faith. Anything you yourself would like to get rid of.

The problem with that attitude is that evidentialism makes Christianity theologically unstable. It suffers from an identity crisis. There's no built-in limit on what biblical teachings you can jettison. It comes down to your personal assessment of what constitutes the core of Christianity. The underlying problem is that evidentialism fails to take seriously the nature of Christianity as a revealed religion.

By contrast, presuppositionalists don't treat biblical teachings as negotiable and expendable. Now we might ask if that's an implication of presuppositionalism or just a reflection of the religious culture in which presuppositionalists operate. 

I'd say it's an implication of presuppositionalism. Basically, evidentialists approach the Bible as historians while presuppositionalists approach the Bible as theologians. And presuppositionalists are right about that. Of course, that's not deny the historicity of Scripture. But Christianity is a religion. It's about God and God's relation to the world he made. 

And it's not as if the Bible is a secular record of sacred history. Bible writers are agents of sacred history. They have a divine vocation in redemptive history. They aren't just spectators of divine activity in redemptive history; rather, God acts in them and through them as divine spokesmen and witnesses. In that regard, presuppositionalism has a more holistic and integrated viewpoint. 

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