Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Problem With Inerrancy in the SBC

The following is written by an unashamed inerrantist. Were someone to ask me, "Wade, do you believe in the inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word of God?" - I would answer, Absolutely yes! Yes! Yes! Yet, I am beginning to discover that we inerrantists have caused certain problems to arise in the Southern Baptist Convention. Whereas the Conservative Resurgence claimed that the Convention would be delivered from certain death through our so-called "Battle for the Bible," I am becoming more and more convinced that we inerrantists have caused more problems than we have solved. The following is a short list of a few of those problems.

(1). We have claimed to believe in the inerrant Word but have failed to practice its teachings.

When an inerrantist can be hostile, bitter, angry, conniving, self-serving and vindictive toward fellow Christians, then no matter how much we claim to believe in the inerrant word, our conduct contradicts our profession. Jesus said His disciples would be known by their love, but it seems we Southern Baptists are sometimes more concerned to be known for our inerrancy initiatives than our loving lives.

(2). We have succombed to the particular dangerous sin of arrogance, believing we know the mind of God on all matters unrelated to the primary doctrines of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

It used to be that Southern Baptists could interpret the Bible in freedom, defend their different views, and cooperate in spite of our differences. But now we are in an age when we inerrantists have lost sight of what it means to give freedom to fellow inerrantists being able to interpret Scripture differently. The Southern Baptists at The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believe that men and women should be restricted to very different roles within the family, church organizations, and the rest of society. Typically, members of CBMW view positions of leadership and authority to be reserved for males only.

Christians for Biblical Equality teach that men and women were both created in the image of God, and that the Bible intends that they function in a full and equal partnership. Talents, including the ability to preach, teach and to lead, exist throughout both genders.

Both CBMW and CBE are conservative Christian groups. Both believe that the Bible is the authoritative, inspired and inerrant Word of God. Both groups are staffed with honorable, devout, intelligent, thoughtful, rational people. One of the problems with we inerrantists is that we have lost the ability to be humble and simply say, "I could be wrong. I will hold to my position, because I believe it is the right one, but I will never sever fellowship, relationship or cooperative ministry with you because we have the same Father and are part of His family."

(3). We have at times acted as if we worship the Bible more than we do the God revealed in the Bible.

Bibliolatry is as off base as the religion of Islam. The Islamic belief system is based on a superstitious view of the Koran, with orthodox radicals believing it can only be read in the original language of Arabic, that it cannot touch the ground or lie underneath any other book, and that the Koran itself is holy and sacred and should be revered. True Christianity has never had such a view of the Bible. When we inerrantists forget that it is the God that the Scriptures reveal who we are to worship and not the Scripture itself, then we will come to the place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is superceded by religious fanaticism.

(4). We have turned to signing creeds as the measure of inerrancy, and have forgotten that the definition of inerrancy revolves around what the Bible is, not the forced acceptance of specific interpretations of what the Bible says.

I read where William Thornton pointed out that Tony Cartledge has reported the following:

"At a recent orientation session, my friend [who had been a field supervisor for SEBTS students] was told that he not only had to agree to work within the guidelines of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement, but he had to sign an affirmation that he supported it.

But that's not all. He would also have been required to sign a statement indicating his support for the Abstract of Principles, the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, and the "Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood."

One of these days, unless the course is corrected, Southern Baptists at the annual Southern Baptist Convention will have to have pins stapled to their badges identifying all the documents they have signed, with the very real possibility that the number of pins needed for verification shall hang as far to the floor as the badge of that poor soul from the 1960's who was pinned with his ninetieth year of perfect Sunday School attendance.

(5). We inerrantist argue more about the Bible than we talk about Jesus.

A Great Commission Resurgence is needed because what our world needs is Jesus. Whether they understand or appreciate inerrancy is irrelevant. Whether they understand and appreciate Jesus determines their future destiny.

The world is on fire and we are putting it out with the gasoline of inerrancy. It's time we focused on dousing the fire with the water of the gospel. Next time you read an article about the problems caused by people who don't hold to inerrancy, you remember these problems caused by some of us who do.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Ramesh said...

I did not wish to be the first person to comment on this important post. I did wait for 30 minutes. :)

Link Correction:
Baptist Life Forums > How many things will 'good' SBCers have to sign....

Also, Paula Fether has some commentary on The Danvers Statement.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade,


Thanks for the post,


Rex Ray said...

You’ve made some very good statements that I doubt any of our leaders will attempt to dispute.

Most things written by men have ‘weak’ spots. In trying to ‘cover all the bases’, the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy states:

“Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be convincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions.”

The bottom line is some are label as ‘non-bible believers’ because they see “inconsistencies” as errors instead of “illusions”.

How picky is that?

Darrell said...

Great Post! I had a thought some time back on this:

" We are not reaching the lost because of the "arrogance of inerrant rightness"

Jim Paslay said...


I couldn't disagree with you more. Every point you make about the problems with inerrancy is dealing with a small group of people.

On every point I will agree with you there have been instances where your observations are true. But the instances you cite are in the minority and not the majority.

For instance, the church I pastor still has the 1963 BF&M in its Constitution. Would I like to see us adopt the 2000 BF&M? Yes. Am I doing anything to push our church in that direction? No. Have we had any witch hunts in the BGCO over the 2000 BF&M? No.

I can't remember the last time I have had a discussion about inerrancy with a fellow pastor in my association. But the subject has been brought up many times on this blog and usually by disgruntled moderates.

By the way, was it conservatives being too fundamental that led to the problems in the 1970s and the 80s or was it moderates who began the slippery slope to neo-orthodoxy that cast doubt upon the Word of God? A little balance, please!

Byroniac said...

Rex Ray:

I will have to disagree with you on inerrancy, but I think your complaint is justified. The accusations can be even worse than "non-Bible believers" because to doubt inerrancy is to have your salvation automatically questioned. I think if more people were honest more of the time, you would have more admissions of honest doubts. I have had (and continue to have) my doubts! In the end, I believe and hope my position will prove accurate. But I have to honestly admit: I don't know.

To Anyone:

I can see both sides of the argument between the BFM 1963 and the BFM 2000 concerning the Scriptures, at least.

The 1963 version states, "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ." The 2000 version states, "All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation." I like both statements, but I prefer the 1963 version, as it seems more spiritual to me. Without the Holy Spirit guiding us into God's truth, and illuminating the truth concerning Christ in our minds, the Bible can become "just a book" filled with words and religious dogma. It is so much more than that. I think I prefer the 1963 wording because it just seems to me that Christians (those who know Jesus) have an easier time and do a better job of interpreting Scripture (an activity that in my mind, at least, is never to be divorced from prayer and Holy Spirit guidance in a living relationship with Christ).

What good is a testimony focused on and concerning Christ, as good and wonderful as that is, without a spiritual context for interpretation, in light of one's own personal relationship with Christ? Maybe my thinking on this is wrong, but I keep thinking of (I think it was) Hank Hanegraaff's "a text without a context is a pretext" in this light. It makes me think that approaching the Bible without a spiritual framework of interpretation (i.e., the believer's personal walk with Christ) leaves one open to wooden literalism, mistaken interpretations, and unfounded dogmatism. I guess on the flip side, I could sooner be guilty of "hyper-spiritualizing" something in order to explain it away or soften any commandments the text may have. Fine, I'll acknowledge that possibility. To me that only proves how desperately we need the Holy Spirit in the first place, given by Christ.

Bryan Riley said...

1. "[B]ut it seems we Southern Baptists are sometimes more concerned to be known for our inerrancy initiatives than our loving lives."

Wow. Swish, two points.

2. "True Christianity has never had such a view of the Bible. When we inerrantists forget that it is the God that the Scriptures reveal who we are to worship and not the Scripture itself, then we will come to the place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is superceded by religious fanaticism."

A hearty amen!!

3. Not only do we talk about our theories and biblical prowess, we forget the most important thing - loving God and loving others.

Great post. This isn't just a problem in the SBC, but it is a problem and it obscures the True character and nature of God for so many.

Stephen said...

Great post, Wade. Amen! I put my faith in the God of the Bible rather than the Bible of God. Many good and well-meaning Christians boast of inerrancy and their belief in the Bible, but still adhere to extra-scriptural writings as the basis for their Christian ethos. Example - How many Christians bought and read the Left Behind series? If we are to be "people of the book" we should interpret God's message to us with relevance to our lives. Instead we have tried to emulate first century culture and have created a fundamentalist, legalistic religion coupled with a shallow understanding of the true meaning of Scripture. Paul's letters were not written to us.....they were written for us. If we, under the label if inerrancy, attempt to translate the Bible in fundamental terms, we should apologize to God for eating strangled animals and for apologizing for slavery - an institution fully supported in the New Testament. I'm just saying!! Of course, I am being facetious in an attempt to make a point.

wadeburleson.org said...

Thy Peace,

You are always welcome to be the first to post. Your comments are as important as the post itself.

Blessings. On my way to San Diego for a couple of days.

In His Grace,


wadeburleson.org said...


Final comment from me before I leave. You haven't had any discussions about inerrancy with fellow pastors?

Just wait.

Anytime anyone tries to point out problems in the SBC, the chorus of "disgruntled moderates" who don't hold to inerrancy rises from the choir boys. :)

It ain't going to work this time.



Christy said...

Wade, This was a good assessment.

The discussion of inerrancy is still very alive and very critical to the education of believers when talking to agnostics and atheists. People don't know what the Bible says much less how it came to be and who wrote it and if it really is legitimate. It's not just a discussion for pastors to have. It's a discussion for believers to have. We need to understand what it means not that we should just agree with it and sign a creed announcing our stance.

Pastors, please realize that we need you to teach us, lead us, and help us understand these matters. When Dawkins, Hitchens, and Ehrman are getting media attention left and right (pun intended), we need to be prepared to have discussion that points people to the truth. Inerrancy of the Bible is a portion of that discussion.

I've been a believer for 30 years. I didn't know I was an inerrantist until I was told so because my preacher said we all were. I had to do my own research to even find out what that meant and why I should be one. But I still have my questions and because I have questions doesn't mean that I'm not saved, have unconfessed sin blinding my mind, a disgruntled moderate, or a Presbyterian in Baptist clothing (I wish I were making up those claims). For the record, those claims didn't come from this blog or its commenters.

I feel like there are way too many all or nothing issues within Baptist life and there's no room for those of us who are constantly learning and growing in our faith. I haven't arrived. I just wish those who might have would be a bit more patient with the rest of us.

Wade, you've made a good assessment and I appreciate your efforts today.


Rex Ray said...

Your disagreement was the nicest disagreement I believe I’ve ever had.

You said you preferred the 1963 version of “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ” over the 2000 saying, “All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation”.

I agree with you on this point. If I remember correctly, the 2000 ‘replacement’ (“All Scripture is a testimony…”) was not added until a ‘howl’ went up over the removal of “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ”.

BTW, I like to think of that in layman’s words as ‘The Bible is to be interpreted through the eyes of Jesus’ because without His influence we get into this “eye for an eye” and the woman is under the man stuff.

To analyze what was written on ‘short notice’ in the 2000 the “…who is Himself the focus of divine revelation” is great, but “All Scripture is a testimony to Christ” is a huh?? In fact, to me it’s a duhh!

Will someone please tell me what that’s supposed to mean and give some examples?

Jim Paslay,
Thank you for not trying to push your church into adopting the 2000 BFM. Would you agree that if you could influence your church into not adopting either one, that would be a ‘start’ in doing away with the 1963 BFM? That’s the situation we’re in right now.

Would you explain how an “illusion” is different from an ‘error’? This “disgruntled moderate” would like to know.

Frank Gantz said...

I fear that some will toss out the baby with the bath water. Just because an inerrantist is not loving of God and neighbor does not mean that inerrancy is wrong.

It is like the person that does not consider Jesus because some who claim to be followers are less than Jesus-like.

We should challenge leaders that do not demonstrate Christ in their actions. But that should not be the basis for whether we should be inerrantists.

Wade, I know that you do distinguish this but not sure that all who reject some of the inerrantists will do the same.


RKSOKC66 said...

For me, I hold the Bible does not have errors in it.

I admit that we don't have the original manuscripts. Also I admit that we have various Hebrew/Aramaic OT texts and Greek NT texts. However, that doesn't negate the idea that the texts we do have of both the OT and NT are "accurate". Concerning NT texts, there are variations between the Byzantine and Westcott & Hort NT texts. However, they are so close that I don't think this variation gives justification for abandoning "inerrancy". Even though we don't have the exact wording of the original autographs available the meaning is not masked.

For example if one text reads:

I am going down to Subway and get a Spicy Italian and a coke,

and the other text reads:

I am going over to the Subway and obtain a Spicy Italian and a cola drink,

then I think most of us would say that for study and/or preaching purposes the text is the "same". This is a pretty good example of the amount of "diversity" between Greek NT texts which in my opinion does not require that we regard any one of them to be in "error".

If the Bible has errors, we shouldn't waste time preaching from it and/or studying it unless we had some mechanism for determining where those errors were. For example, if I could determine that several passages in II Kings were bogus, then I'd cut them out of my Bible.

Canonicity describes what books should be included in the Bible. Inerrancy describes the fact that the Biblical text is actually correct.

I think some who don't hold to inerrancy do so because they hold to some type of "dictation" theory that says that only the original autographs were superintended by God and so these writings are the only ones potentially "inerrant".

In practice, I think 99% of us treat the English languge translations that we have today as "accurate" even if we don't use the more formal term "inerrant".

For me, if I didn't hold to "inerrancy" then I'd just quit going to church. After all, why waste time listening to sermons where some guy kept talking about a book that was bogus. Why go to Bible study when the book they are studying is riddled with errors?

Instead, maybe I'd become a Muslim because the Koran is held to be the exact word of God in its pure and untranslatable Arabic form.

For guys who don't hold to inerrancy my question is, "If the Bible is not accurate, then what difference does it make if it is authoritative?"

I can handle guys who don't hold to, for example, believer's baptism by immersion. That is a wrong understanding of baptism on several counts but it doesn't preclude you from being a Christian. But to hold that the Bible has errors knocks out at least 80% of the the epistomological basis for our faith.

Yes, inerrancy, really is a hill to die for. But there is no denying that there were/are many negative repercussions of the CR.

Alan Paul said...

Yes, inerrancy, really is a hill to die for.

So did the Jews think the Law and obedience to it was a hill to die on. They were right, but it wasn't their place to die on it but Jesus' so we wouldn't have to. So let's not continue to create more hills to die on and let us dispense with past hills.

Ron said...

You have made an accurate and insightful statement on the subject of inerrancy in the SBC today. Your first statement , “We have claimed to believe in the inerrant Word but have failed to practice its teachings” is one I have been saying for years and is the major reason I cannot support the CR. We have had leaders of the CR screaming that inerrancy is important while at the same time they have been committing adultery, stealing from their friends or churches and bearing false witness against fellow Baptists. What good does it do to say you are an inerrantist if the testimony of your life is that the Bible is not important.

In the 1987 the Peace Committee made the following statement, “Although all Southern Baptists do not understand the Baptist Faith and Message Statement on Scripture the same way, this diversity should not create hostility towards each other, stand in the way of genuine cooperation, or interfere with the rights and privileges of all Southern Baptists within the denomination to participate in its affairs.” This statement was approved by a committee that included Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines and Charles Stanley. Why have we insisted on demanding that people use the word inerrancy when describing their belief about the Bible. I am an inerrantist but I am not as concerned whether others want to use that word or not as I am about what they actually believe about the Bible and how they show that through their actions and their lives.

If the word inerrancy is so important, why is not mentioned in the 2000 BFM?

Wade you say that a Great Commission Resurgence is necessary and I have no problem with that. I would like to see us discuss the proposal by Johnny Hunt and Danny Akin for a Great Commission Resurgence that is going to be proposed at this year’s SBC meeting. I could not sign the document for a number of reasons but most of all because I do not believe it has anything to do with a GCR. Reorganizing the SBC or combining the IMB and NAMB will not bring about a GCR. The SBC does not need to study the state conventions and associations. The state conventions and association need to study the SBC and determine if the SBC is fulfilling its mission. For example, I believe that the SBC would more fully carryout the wishes of the churches, associations and state conventions if the trustees from each state were chosen by the state convention. What we have now is a system similar to what would happen in the US if the president were able to chose the senators and congressmen from each state whether the state supported him or not. Why don’t we have a blog devoted to discussing the GCR as proposed by Hunt and Akin.
Ron West

Alan Paul said...

Mark 16: 9-20.

Viator - Vicar of Knights of Jesus said...

Your comments are true today. They were true when I graduated from GGTBS in 1982...and when I left the SBC in 1988. Inerrancy is all in how you define terms. Living in Christ is how you love one another.

RKSOKC66 said...

Alan Paul:

When I say that inerrancy is "a hill to die on" of course I am speaking figuratively. I am not saying I'm going to fight to the death to defend that doctrine.

Specifically, if someone doesn't hold to inerrancy that is up to them.


RKSOKC66 said...


There may be two or more parallel discussions going on here at once.

I'm not defending the use of the term "inerrant". All I'm saying is that no matter what term you use I believe that the idea that the Bible is "accurate', "correct", "without error", "not bogus", etc. is foundational.

If the word "inerrant" is supercharged with negative connotations due to overhang from the CR, then substitute that word with something having equivalent meaning.

Ron West:

I'm not defending "inerrancy" because the guys who fought the CR were perfect. The Bible either is or is not accurate regardless of whether the CR was ever fought, and regardless of whether or not the SBC exists. The argument regarding "inerrancy" is not contingent on whatever fallen men may have done throughout history.

I don't buy the following argument:

(a) CR guys hold to inerrancy

(b) There are tons of guys in the CR movement who have horrible life styles

(c) Therefore, the Bible is not inerrant.

How about this:

My dog "Hansel" is a German Shepherd

A German Shepherd over in Shawnee bit the mailman last week

Therefore, Hansel is a mean dog who will likely bite the mailman.

Christiane said...

Good Morning Everyone,

It's me, L's

When I first started leaving comments on Wade's blog, I responded to something that had 'jarred' me: the idea that each of us is 'convinced' of our 'own' rightness concerning the meaning of Scripture.

I would like to share that entry with you again, as I think it responds to some of the points of 'inerrancy' that divide us, and cause lack of willingness to try to understand one another's viewpoint on the Holy Writings:

Here is the entry:

"To rmkton:

You said, "We are all convinced of our 'rightness'."

I can tell you that is not always true. God made us all different.

Point is, we SEE a scripture from different perspectives, so each of us will find meaning in it that is personal. I think this is a part of God's plan.

Nice if we could share our points of view, and so learn what someone else is seeing with the eyes that God gave them.

Also, sometimes we can come to a consensus about a teaching, but history has shown that is a rare, if beautiful, occurence.

Also, we encounter a scripture at different times in our lives. The scripture that has a certain meaning when we are twenty may be much expanded in meaning for us by the time we are eighty.

The scriptures are so rich; so layered with wisdom. The Holy Spirit reveals
more and more of this wisdom each time we read. The scripture that has spoken to you on one day may have a different message after the passing of a beloved parent or a child.

If another has seen something in a scripture that you have not seen, perhaps God has a reason for that.

In short, God knows that with the scriptures "one size fits all" wouldn't work because He chose not to make us all clones of each other.

In His wisdom and for purposes we may not understand, He certainly formed us individually.

Enter the culture wars. Mix them with politics. Add a little bias as to what "the Bible says". What do you get? I really don't think the Holy Scriptures were meant to waved around by partisans.

If you see MY point of view, you will understand that I believe that the Scriptures are meant to be approached with reverence and with prayer for understanding.

What is YOUR point of view? You are certainly entitled by the Father to have your own insight.

L's Gran.

Thu Sep 18, 06:19:00 PM 2008 "

And so it is that I still believe these things: layers of meaning, the ancient writings in the context of the time and culture; the spirituality that comes through in blessing from Christ as we read, the incredibly beautiful gifts of the Holy Spirit in comforting us in grief as we read, the Light cast on to the Holy Writings by He Who was 'there' when they were written. So personal, so much blessing, so much grace flows to us in the Holy Writings, if only we come to them in reverent prayer for understand, and 'listen' for God's blessing as we read and as , in humility, we are changed for the better, and then remembering to give thanks after we are blessed.

So much goodness. And given to EACH of us, personally in blessing.

If ANYONE doubts the ispiration of the Holy Writings, pray the Psalms.
There is a MYSTERY in these Psalms:
that when you pray them, it is like they become YOUR WORDS, for the first time prayed to the Creator anew and fresh. Beautiful!

Love, L's

Byroniac said...


I believe in inerrancy. If you ask were the original autographs inspired and inerrant? My belief is, yes, absolutely. The problem is we no longer possess the original autographs. So if you ask are any of the current translations of the Bible inerrant (in any language), I would have to say no, I personally do not believe any of them are, even in English. I do not know the original languages but in my limited study I read that all of the translations are assembled from earlier manuscripts which have many different readings in places.

Doubting inerrancy is not a simple matter of waking up one morning and thinking, "I believe I'll start doubting God's Word today." Sometimes I get the impression that this is what some people believe. I do not think that God expects us to never use spiritual discernment, even in this area.

I have questions, and I cannot help it. What about the Johannine Comma of 1 John 5:7-8 (I think it states truth, but its authenticity is dubious)?

What about the adultery pericope of 7:53-8:11 (not found in the earliest manuscripts)?

What about the longer ending of Mark 16:9-20 (which I've read is completely different in various ways from the rest of the book)?

What about Zechariah 9:9 and Matthew 21:5 (two animals are mentioned here, and only one in the other gospels)?

What about Matthew 23:35 (this particular Zechariah is not known to have died this way, but the Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21 fits this description, and again, Zechariah is not identified like this in other Gospels).

There are others, and I need further study I know. I disagree with those who do not hold to inerrancy because I believe there are answers to these. But it may be that I never know all the answers to the supposed contradictions in this life. That is hard to accept, but possible. That is why I think the best apologists are those who in devotion to Christ tackle problems like these head on to provide answers for all believers, inerrantist or not.

Michael Ruffin said...

Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, and amen (that's seven amens, thus a full and complete amen).

The only thing that I think you get wrong, Wade, is your continued insistence (at least it sounds like insistence to me--it is at least a stated assumption) that only "inerrantists" are welcome underneath the big SBC tent that you are advocating.

One reason that some people, myself included, would not use the word "inerrancy" to describe the Bible is that to use that word in the SBC context is seen as an alignment of oneself with the "inerrancy party" in the SBC that has indeed creatd the kinds of problems that you delineate in this post.

Your observation that the SBC is becoming more and more creedal was and is the necessary and inevitable outcome of the so-called "CR." The issue was, is, and will continue to be control, and that control has been, is being, and will be exercised and solidified by people for whom the issue is not and never really was the nature of Scripture but rather the enforcement of a narrowly defined creed that equates a commitment to biblical authority with a bowing down to certain interpretations of Scripture.

The issue was never the inerrancy of the Bible; it was always the inerrancy of some "conservative" interpreters.

Byroniac said...

I forgot to add Matthew 27:53 (see 50-53 for context) which bothers me more than Matthew 21:5. It's only in Matthew. The KJV verses say, "52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." So, these saints arose from death, but remained in their graves until after Christ's resurrection three days later? I know that cannot be right, but a quick surface reading of the text would make you think that. The bigger questions are, why is something as profound as this only mentioned in one Gospel? And why are there no historical witnesses (that I know of, anyway)?

bapticus hereticus said...

then, Wade, you are saying belief in inerrancy is not required for one to teach in an SBC seminary or hold a position of leadership in the convention, and given such you will now advocate for non-inerrantists in teaching and leadership positions?

RKSOKC66 said...


The issue for me is not "control". No one "controls" me. I do my own thing! :)

If inerrancy and control were the same thing I'd quit attending the church I'm attending now because it holds to inerrancy.

What is wrong with holding that the Bible is correct, accurate, "inerrant" (use you own term) without yielding "control" to any third person?

Byronac, you raise excellent points. I have a few comments for you that I'll bring up in a subsequent comment.

Roger Simpson

Lydia said...

The issue was never the inerrancy of the Bible; it was always the inerrancy of some "conservative" interpreters.

Wed May 20, 12:14:00 PM 2009

My thoughts exactly.

And strangely enough, over a short time, the focus of inerrancy went from primary doctrine to so called 'inerrant' interpretations of secondary non salvic doctrines.

John Fariss said...

I'd like to make an original, insightful, and meaningful comment here.

I'd like to but I can't. Several of you--including (but not limited to) Bryoniac, Brian Riley, Stephen, Ron, Michael Ruffin, and especially you Wade, have already made the ones I'd like to have said.

I can only add a couple of minor things: in the absence of any autograph copies, I have always believed the whole inerrancy debate was a tempest in a teapot, ultimately unsettleable this side of the grave--especialy since those who do not like the term are NOT arguing for errors, but rather about the uncertainity and ethical factors. And consequently, affirmation of the "doctrine" (so called) is more a matter of identifying one's self with the political aims of the CR rather than any real theological breakthrough.

Second (and this may surprise some on this blog), I can affirm inerrancy in a limited way, and in fact, my "definition" fits within one of the definitions adopted in the Chicago Statement. Even so though, I feel that these limitations make the meaning of the word "inerrant" meaningless--or at least make it mean something very different from its root meaning, and it just does not seem intellectually honest (for me) to do so. I believe and have preached many times on "Let your yea be yea and your nay, nay," and to use the word "inerrant" with such a convoluted definition seems unethical and dishonest to me.

And by the way: the lack of affirming "inerrancy" has nothing to do (for me) with the accuracy, infalliability, and integrity of the written Word. I still affirm both those.

Thanks Wade.


John Fariss said...

And you too Lydia!

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

Pastor Wade,

Your points are valid; however, I believe all of these issues are proofs of the inerrancy of Scripture, because after all the Scriptures say, "I find then a law, that evil is present with me..."(Rom. 7:21). The scriptures rightly tell of our human predicament, even the struggle of the flesh with those who are saved. So we shouldn't be surprised by fights within the SBC or any other Christian group. I am convinced that God will deal with us in the appropriate way He has chosen and eventually we will see the good that He makes of it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we shouldn't point out faults nor take a stand but we need to remember "the slain of the Lord are many" and often times it is our very own brothers and sisters of the faith.

Christiane said...


It's me, L's

You have shown concern about 'inconsistencies' among the Gospels regarding the time of the Resurrection. The differences are there and they are notable.
The early Fathers of the Church noted certain differences also.
But comes to us these words of reassurance from St. Augustine:

"You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture,

that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers,

since He who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables;

for He is not subject to time."

As much as I have tried to envision the meaning of 'inerrancy', I cannot.
The term as presented just doesn't crossover into the way my faith approaches scripture.

I hope the 'inerrancy' thing is not just another political way the B.I. people have chosen to try to 'control' the sheep.
I can just envision Paige Patterson saying, 'The Holy Spirit has left the building, therefore I will interpret the scriptures to determine how best to handle the Klouda affair.' Ouch!

I'll go with St. Augustine's approach any day. Love, L's

Dozer said...

I agree that the bible is inerrant, but rather than try to argue the inerrancy of God's word, my question is, is the word of God sufficient?

Michael Ruffin said...

Dozer said,

"I agree that the bible is inerrant, but rather than try to argue the inerrancy of God's word, my question is, is the word of God sufficient?"

My answer (and I'm a "moderate" Baptist who would not be welcome in the leadership cadre of the SBC or among their followers because of words I can't use and interpretations I can't embrace): absolutely and positively, period.

RKSOKC66 said...

Holy Toledo!! It could be that both "inerrantists" and "non-inerrantists" believe the same thing regarding the accuracy of the Bible.

I think much of the "smoke" going on here is with the term "inerrant". Most of you evidently think the term has been hijacked by guys in the CR to mean "my interpretation" rather than having anything to do with the accuracy of the text.

As an accomodation to irenic debate I'll stipulate, at least for the terms of this blog, to cease to be an "inerrantist". No use artifically polarizing over stuff that only cuts as deep as the meaning of some supercharged word.

Its too bad that some "evil CR guys" co-opted what should be a legitimate word that otherwise would have meaning. :)

Henceforth, in my comments here I'm going to be a guy who holds to the "accuracy" of the Bible.

I think the Chicago statement is OK but I guess I'm too dumb argue it with the finesse it deserves.

I don't mind having a debate about whatever might be the "interpretation" of the Bible by some subset of SBC leaders. However, that is changing the subject of what I thought we were talking about.

I think it would help if we all understood each others terminology. Like they said on the Flower Drum Song, "How are we going to communicate without communication"?

Roger Simpson

Graceman said...

Pastor Bob Farmer:

Your comment is a nail well driven!

It's accurate and true, and concise whereas all others are just meanderings in search of a coherent thought.


John Fariss said...


Forget that is a hurtful thing to say to brothers in Christ, and that it is not necessary to your affirmation of Bro. Farmer, "all others are just meanderings in search of a coherent thought." Isn't that attitude exactly the sort of thing Wade is railing against in his blog?


ART PIERCE said...

Wade (5)
I believe my Bible is true and trustworthy. It is the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and thereby I can know who God is and what he has done and what his intentions are for me in my world.
Let me ask you, is your Bible true? I do not mean the original autograph. I mean the copy you have and use. I mean whichever text of the Old Testament or the New Testament or whichever translation you actually study.
I am aware of the mistakes the copyists made in ancient manuscripts, the prejudices and theological blindness of some translators. But the Bible I have is true, I am going to live by it; I am going to die believing it and trusting the Savior I have found through it; I am going to live eternally with the God who inspired it.
In the meantime, I am going to study it with the help of all the theological scholars the world can produce. I will be grateful to those scholars who help me while ignoring those who do not.
If God had though I needed an Inerrant, infallible, verbally inspired copy of the Bible, he would have preserved the original text on a Golden Tablet.

Christiane said...


Yes, I had noticed the discrepancy between Paige Patterson's professed belief in the 'inerrancy' of Scripture
AND his vicious treatment of the innocent Dr. Klouda.

Not understanding 'inerrancy', I was influenced by Patterson's avowed faith in the term and by his lack of compassion, and attempted destruction of this good woman's professional life and of her family's welfare.

Actually, the word 'attempted' is not accurate. He really did some serious damage to an innocent person. I'm glad I found Wade's web site so I know there are Baptists who believe in 'inerrancy', what ever it is, and do NOT cause harm to innocents because they follow the Lord Christ.

This was confirmed for me when I read Wade's statement:

"When an inerrantist can be hostile, bitter, angry, conniving, self-serving and vindictive toward fellow Christians, then no matter how much we claim to believe in the inerrant word, our conduct contradicts our profession"

I know that in the case of Patterson and Klouda, no mercy was shown; and I know that Wade tried to help Dr. Klouda, so the contrast in two men who profess "Christ" is obvious. Both are 'inerrantists' but only one follows the Lord Christ and His Ways. There is no doubt that the other man does not follow Jesus Christ. No one involved in the persecution of innocent Christians can claim the title of 'Christian'. No one.

RKSOKC66 said...

I thought this was a discussion regarding the accuracy of the Bible. Not a critique of some CR leader such as Dr. Paige Patterson.

Whether or not the Bible is accurate is not contingent on whatever Dr. Patterson does or doesn't do.

Christiane said...

Dear RKSOK666,

My comments are completely appropriate to the post, and I will explain why I believe this.

Wade wrote this as one of the 'problems' being caused:

"(1). We have claimed to believe in the inerrant Word but have failed to practice its teachings."

Sir, Paige Patterson OPENLY and horribly dealt with Dr. Klouda.
He hid nothing. Can you or anyone in the SBC DEFEND his actions in the light of Christ's teachings?

Is Paige Patterson the BEST example of the B.I. you could muster to head a SEMINARY ?
Training ministers?

Gosh, I hope not.

But that is as may be, it IS TRUE that there is a certain hypocrisy in a 'leader' claiming that the Word of God is what he follows as 'inerrant', and then the man's behavior toward a woman professor is devoid of any humane treatment, let alone devoid of any Christian compassion.

If you wish to speak FOR Dr. Patterson, of course, please do.
If I wish to speak against what he did to Dr. Klouda and her family, I will do so.

Please, can you explain how this man truly follows Christ, the Living Word? Is there something in the 'Holman Bible' that 'excuses' Dr. Patterson from Christian behavior towards a fellow human being?

I will speak against his treatment of Dr. Klouda at every opportunity, in the hopes that some will soon fearlessly attempt to help him return to the Lord.

An examination of the wide gulf between Dr. Patterson's horrific treatment of this victim and his claim to be a faithful 'inerrantist' believer in the Gospel is warranted and appropriate.

I hope I explained why I chose to include my remarks.

'Saying' one believes in the Gospels as being without error
and 'practicing' evil against a fellow Christian to the point of harming even the person's family is beyond all understanding.

Dozer said...

If someone hijacked 'inerrancy' to mean something totally screwball other than the integrity of the whole scripture down through the ages, I first, apologize for my lack of understanding.

Secondly, for which I do not apologize for, is leaving the SBC to become a Methodist pastor.

The very fact that this kind of debate rages is messed up.

RKSOKC66 said...


I'm willing to let this rest but since you specifically asked me some questions so I'll answer you.

I am NOT supporting in any way Dr. Patterson. I never approved anything he did and I'm not approving it now. This is the case regardless of whatever view Dr. Patterson may have on the question of the "authority" of the Bible.

Just because someone holds to the "authority" of the Bible does not give them a free pass for unchristian behavior.

I agree with you that that Dr. Klouda was wrongfully terminated. I gave $100 to the fund that Wade collected to help Dr. Klouda.

My point still stands. All of this has nothing to do with the "accuracy" of the Bible unless you hold that the doctrine of the "accuracy" of the Bible is only correct if everyone that holds that doctrine lives an exemplary Christian life.

It could be that a given doctrine is actually correct even if some "bad guys" hold it.

I think I'm a half-way decent guy but that doesn't mean that whatever doctrine I hold to be correct is actually correct.

It is time to unlink personalities cults from swamping critical thinking. I don't think we should espouse or not espouse something just because of what some guy says.

Christine, this will be my last comment on this subject. You get the last word.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Byroniac said...


I think there comes a point when I become too focused on formulating doctrine down to the hair splits rather than simply living by faith and obeying the Word. I'm not sure what Augustine would tell me, but he'd probably agree with me (and slap me upside the head and tell me to pay more attention). At any rate, I like those words from him you quoted.

I would love to read Hank Hanegraaff's The Bible Under Seige. Have you read it? Or has anyone else? It's supposed to be a small pamphlet or booklet I think.

Christiane said...


It's me, L's

I have not read 'The Bible Under Siege" by Hanegraaff. I will look it up on the web and see what I come up with. Thanks for the lead.

I rather like St. Augustine's quote myself. When people get very picky about this verse and that verse in isolation , I wonder if they forget that all the books of the inspired Word are connected through Him who was there when they were written?

The Holy Spirit held the lamp whereby the authors wrote. And the Holy Spirit holds the lamp for us today while we read those ancient words.
And in that holy Light,
we read,
and we understand.
Thanks Be To God

Love, L's

Ron said...

Roger RKSOK66,
You wrote the following to me:

“I'm not defending "inerrancy" because the guys who fought the CR were perfect. The Bible either is or is not accurate regardless of whether the CR was ever fought, and regardless of whether or not the SBC exists. The argument regarding "inerrancy" is not contingent on whatever fallen men may have done throughout history.“

I think we have a communication problem here. I agree completely with this paragraph. I could have written the same thing. I will defend the idea of inerrancy but not the term inerrancy.

Then you go on to say the following :
I don't buy the following argument:
(a) CR guys hold to inerrancy
(b) There are tons of guys in the CR movement who have horrible life styles
(c) Therefore, the Bible is not inerrant.

I did not say the Bible is not inerrant. In fact I said I am an inerrantist. You talk as though I was making an argument against inerrancy. I was commenting on Wade’s first point that inerrantists have failed to following the teaching of the inerrant Bible. I have a Ph.D. in mathematics. I understand faulty reasoning. I have often used your example of faulty reasoning with my students. Please don’t accuse me of using that type of reasoning. Don’t put your words in my writing. I said we have had leaders of the CR neglect the teaching of the inerrant Bible. You said there are tons of guys in the CR movement who have horrible life styles. I do not know if there are tons are not but there are plenty and they are at the highest level of the CR movement. I do not know what percentage they are since I do not know how many people support the CR movement. I have mentioned many of the names on Wade’s blog before and could provide a list for each of the sins I mentioned. The fact that so many have neglected the teaching of the inerrant Bible is one reason I could never support their political organization. The other reason is that almost nothing they do has anything to do with inerrancy or conservative theology. Most of their actions are for control and power. They have forced more theological conservatives out of SBC life than they have liberals.
Ron West

Christiane said...


I also had difficulty understanding your reasoning and your take on my own "logic." Don't worry, many people have trouble with my 'logic'. :) I really honestly could not sort out what you meant.

I recommend for you this:

Socratic Questioning:
a system of questions that logically help the person you are communicating with to develop their ideas along logical lines.

You can google in: 'Socratic Questioning' and find some excellent sources with examples to help you. I know that this system might make it a little easier for you because I used to teach this method in a class that we were preparing to advance into a gifted program the following year.

Look it up and see if it might help. Love, L's

Tom Kelley said...

I don't think it's a matter of a "Problem With Inerrancy" so much as a problem with us errant humans often not living what we profess to believe.

RKSOKC66 said...

Ron West:

I'm sorry for poor editorial work on my part. The syllogism does NOT apply to you.

My comment should have read:

>> -----------------------------


. . . . . . .

Ron West:

I'm not defending "inerrancy" because the guys who fought the CR were perfect. The Bible either is or is not accurate regardless of whether the CR was ever fought, and regardless of whether or not the SBC exists. The argument regarding "inerrancy" is not contingent on whatever fallen men may have done throughout history.

>> ------------------------------

I should have inserted a break here to denote end of comments to Ron West. The following is a general comment:

>> -----------------------------

I don't buy the following argument:

(a) CR guys hold to inerrancy

(b) There are tons of guys in the CR movement who have horrible life styles

(c) Therefore, the Bible is not inerrant.

>> ----------------------

Ron, I agree that the syllogism is totally unrelated to anything you said or implied. Please accept my apology. As far as I can tell we are actually in agreement.

Believe it or not I try to edit these comments and take great care in what I'm saying but sometimes I'm just careless. I appreciate you calling me out on this. Again I apologize.

Roger Simpson

Rex Ray said...

In a way, the Bible is like a shotgun; all the pellets do not go to the same spot. It’s like L’s said that the same Scripture will give us new ‘insight’ as the years go by.

People may read the same verse but due to their different backgrounds the verse may have a different meaning to them.

Eskimos may smile when they hear how hot it will be in hell. :)

I believe we have a Bible that God wants us to have today. Tomorrow, He may want us to have a different one. But with any of them, He wants us to realize that the Bible did not speak the world into existence and we are not to worship the messenger as being perfect as God.

I have a problem with you saying, “If I didn’t hold to ‘inerrancy’ then I’d quit going to church” and “If the Bible has errors, we shouldn’t waste time preaching from it.”

More than once Jesus said he did not know but only his Father knew.

Why would we listen to Jesus if he did not know everything? I mean ‘not knowing’ answers reveals not being perfect. Right?

Why should we listen to Jesus if he was not ‘perfect’? He was even wrong when he told his disciples his Father would be with him when he was on the cross. (John 16:32)

The point I’m making is we don’t throw (John 3:16) out the window just because (1 Timothy 2:15) says women are saved through child bearing; or because (Matthew 9:18) says the girl was “even now dead” while (Mark 5:22-26) and (Luke 8:42-52) said she was very sick.

This whole ‘inerrancy business’ started in the early 1900’s by the crazy thinking of atheist saying God didn’t exist because the Bible wasn’t perfect, and fundamentalist using the same crazy thinking that God existed because the Bible was perfect.

God exist because “I AM.” Nothing else needs to be said even though the world could not hold all that’s said of his Son.

Ron said...

I appreciate your apology and accept your explanation. I too feel like we probably agree on most issues in this arguement.

Your use of the syllogism did bring to mind a couple of times when this type of argument was used by Paige Patterson and others in the CR group.

I don't remember the details but Paige said there was an association in the American Baptist Convention that had made some kind of statement approving homosexuality or maybe it was abortion. He infered from that the BWA approves of homosexuality (or abortion) since this association was in the American Baptist Convention and they were in the BWA. That was one of his reasons for withdrawing from the BWA. In addition I have heard many in the CR group say that since there were liberal professors at Southern or Southeastern that all SBC seminaries denied the authority of scripture and the SBC was drifting to liberalism.
In mathematics we always must have a precise definition of our terms and must agree on them in order to have a rational discussion or prove theorems. That is why it is impossible to carry on a rational discussion of theology with supporters of the CR. Their definitions of terms like liberal, moderate, fundamentalist, inerrancy, etc. always change according to the need of the moment. As far as I can understand, their definition of liberal is simply anyone who does not support the CR.

RKSOKC66 said...


It is 1:15AM Central time here and I just got done playing with my ham radio and talking to some guys in Australia on a fairly "rare" band opening on 20 meters. The lack of sunspots have caused very poor radio conditions for at least two years but as of the last couple of days we are seeing some improvement so I'm staying up late to take advantage of these DX band openings.

My wife and I moved here to Oklahoma in 2004. I wasn't here in the "Bible Belt" when the CR was being waged so I lack firsthand knowledge. My "innocent" view has been that I support inerrancy. However, during the discussion here on this blog topic it has became evident to me that the term has lost meaning so I switched to saying I support the doctrine that the Bible is "accurate".

I'm a retired computer software engineer. My wife and I moved here to Oklahoma from Silicon Valley in 2004. Look me up at:


73 Roger K5RKS

Tim Marsh said...

Very few have dealt with the points that Pastor Wade has made in the blog.

First, innerrancy has always centered around the facts taught in the Bible rather than its teachings, particularly the teachings of Jesus.

Second, innerancy as an interpretive strategy is flawed. That is why I prefer the 63 BF$M over the 2000. Jesus as the criterion for interpretation guards against much of the misuse of the OT to support prosperity gospel, dispensational premillenial eschatology, and other gross misuses of scripture.

Finally, our faith is ultimately in Christ. Remember, until the printing press was invented in the 15th (or 16th) century, the common folks did not have access to scripture. Their scripture was usually the Latin they heard in Mass or the paintings they saw in the Cathedrals. Only the elite and clergy had access to Bibles. Were they not saved?

Their faith was in Christ, not the text. Our belief about the text is, or should be, the result of what we believe about Christ, and not vice versa. The slippery slope argument: "if there is one error, then the whole thing is wrong" is a dangerous indicator that faith may be in the Bible, and not the Lord revealed in history and authoritatively preserved and interpreted in scripture.

Amy said...


The problem is not inerrancy but man's interpretation. To title your post as you did indicates to me that you have begun the slippery slope to negating the absolute necessity of inerrancy.

Doctrine is imperative. Doctrine is necessary. And the doctrine of the inerrancy is one issue that can never be considered tertiary.

Reading your posts throughout the years I almost expect a future post of agreement from you that quotes Cecil Sherman's argument that the Virgin Birth is not that big of a deal because only two of the Gospels mention it.

Be careful Wade. I am fearful that you have begun to ride on a slope that only leads downward.

Amy Downey (since you so desperately want to know my last name)

Christiane said...

I am about to venture into deep waters when I bring some of the following up. Please feel free to throw me a life-line, if you think I'm in over my head. :)

That word, 'inerrant', I think is supposed to mean 'without error'.

But then some want the 'Bible' to be a science text book, or a history text book, 'complete' and 'without error' so that all 'facts' contained with in are not to be questioned and 'nothing can be discovered anymore that adds to God's revelation', or you are at the peril of 'disbelieving' the whole of Scripture.

I ask this: do the people who believe all this take into consideration that the ancient writers were intelligent, and inspired, but did not have access to 'modern science methods' and technology as we know it today?

Example: a prayer of the Jewish people thanks God for 'bringing forth bread from the earth' and for the gift of 'the fruit of the vine'.
But, yet, there is no in-depth revelation to these ancients of the wonderful process of photosynthesis wherein the light energy of the sun is captured and stored in food until we eat it; and then that energy is released in us through a process called respiration and the energy is used by us to live and to grow and to move and to reproduce, and to mend many injured cells.

The ancients knew that they were fed and nourished at the Hand of the Father. They did not know of the thousands of scientific steps involved, in perfect sequence, for the Father to grow that food for them.

The Bible teaches us that we are cared for and loved. It does not 'reveal' all the millions of steps occuring in perfect harmony for this to take place. Not all knowledge is revealed by God in the Scriptures.

But the Lord gave us our intelligence. And our curiosity, And our desire to know the answers to 'how?' and 'why?' and 'in what sequence? And so we are able, thanks to Him, to seek our answers about the Gifts of the Lord Who also rules the Natural World.

God revealed to the ancients that which they were ready to receive.
In the example given, He assures them that they are in His loving care.

What could more important?

The details in science about HOW He cares for us are simply that: details we can discover that increase our awe and wonder at the magnificence of the Master of the Universe. And so WE write of these details in science text books.

Is there a conflict?
No way.

We must RESPECT the way God reveals to us.

The Bible reveals the most important messages, but not all is revealed within its pages of God's
workings in the natural world.
Goodness, if it were, the Bible would be so big it would fill the whole Universe, wouldn't it?

No wonder the Lord chose only the most important things to include within the Sacred Writings. :)

Think about respecting the ways we learn of Him and His Creation.
Don't manufacture problems where there are none.
Science should increase our faith.
We revere the God of the Natural World also.

What is that old hymn no one sings these days? I think it begins: 'This is my Father's world.' and there is this part:

Don't be afraid of the lessons of the natural world discovered through modern science. They are revelations of His Glory also.
Learn, and believe, and feel blessed.
Love, L's

Christiane said...

I found these lyrics. :)

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
All nature sings,
and round me rings
the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees,
of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
The morning light,
the lily white,
declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass
I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong
seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes,
and in glad surprise cry,

This is my Father’s world,
from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One,
His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world,
should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—
let the heavens ring.
God reigns—let the earth be glad.

This is my Father’s world.
Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God
is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world.
I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze
to my wondering gaze
God makes His glory known.

This is my Father’s world,
a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot,
it matters not,
My heart is still at home."

The author, Maltbie D. Babcock, a pastor, used to say when he started out for a walk:
"I'm going out to see my Father's

And so it is. Love, L's

Florence in KY said...

Thanks, L's. That is one of my favorite hymns. I especially like the part: "Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet."
Love, Florence in KY

Christiane said...


I remember you as the lady who worried about how to care for her husband in his last illness.

And then, the Lord sent a beautiful sign: that special rare blue colored bird, to comfort you.

His Kindness to us knows no end.
His 'tender mercies' speak of His Loving Care, if we only will open our eyes to His wonders, and not 'take them for granted'. :)

Thank you for sharing that story about the bird. I will remember it always. Love, L's

Jeff said...

Tim, How can we know about Christ apart from the Bible? This is not to deny the work of God in our heart, but many people have made claims to know God or to have a revelation from God. Shouldn't the Bible be our standard by which we grow in our walk with Jesus? I agree that our faith must be in Jesus, but how do I know Jesus apart from a God given record. Help me understand your point.

bapticus hereticus said...

Wade: "It used to be that Southern Baptists could interpret the Bible in freedom, defend their different views, and cooperate in spite of our differences. But now we are in an age when we inerrantists have lost sight of what it means to give freedom to fellow inerrantists being able to interpret Scripture differently."

bapticus hereticus: thus Wade desires the day when SBs can interpret freely and cooperate (which mandates shared governance, btw), but ... yikes, interpreting scripture freely is to be reserved only for inerrantists.

what, pray tell, is the purpose of this article, for it is internally inconsistent? to desire better health while only eating fried foods is to desire the impossible; thus comments about desire absent corresponding supportive behavior, over time, are meaningless and without reason for another to receive them with seriousness.

the blog post, thus, reads as "they won't let me play." no, they won't, but Wade is part of a people that won't let others play, either; his words exclude non-inerrantists, that is, the other SBs.

if Wade really desires change and his lament to be taken seriously, he will first change.

Michael Ruffin said...

Bapticus Hereticus said:

"the blog post, thus, reads as "they won't let me play." no, they won't, but Wade is part of a people that won't let others play, either; his words exclude non-inerrantists, that is, the other SBs."

I said:

"The only thing that I think you get wrong, Wade, is your continued insistence (at least it sounds like insistence to me--it is at least a stated assumption) that only "inerrantists" are welcome underneath the big SBC tent that you are advocating."

In the climactic scene in "Revenge of the Nerds," this stirring statement is made: "Until nerds are free, nobody's free." It brings tears to my eyes.

Perhaps the SBC will never recover its basic Christian grace until we recognize that "Until both inerrantists and non-inerrantists are free, nobody's free."

Doggone it, I'm tearing up again.

John Fariss said...


Tim can answer for himself, but when I read his comments, I took them to mean that one can know Jesus without ever possessing a copy of the Bible, or by hearing its verses, stories, etc. only secondhand and imperfectly. I think we all know that illiterate people today (in third world countries AND right here in the US) as well as those speak languages in which the Bible is not available and where it is prohibited are dependent on some oral tradition or storytelling form of "evangelism" and yet have come to Jesus through it. And if that happens today, it certainly happened hundreds and thousands of years ago when Bibles were few and in languages the people did not understand, as in Tim's example. You on the other hand are speaking of knowing about Jesus, discipleship if you will. Even there, a physical copy of a Bible is not absolutely mandatory, although (assuming literacy) it certainly makes things easier.


Thanks for your insights. Your comments at 9:39 AM are exactly one of the reasons I cannot call myself an inerrantist: there are too many "of us" who take that to mean that the Bible is not only sifficient in matters of faith and practice, but because it is deemed "inerrant" (I believe some add, "in all areas of reality upon which it touches") it is also complete and sufficient in all matters of science, cosmology, etc.


If "the doctrine of the inerrancy is one issue that can never be considered tertiary," why was it not made part of the 2000 BF&M? Its authors could have easily inserted it--they had no restrictions and an almost assurred passage of anything they inserted. And if "Doctrine is imperative" and as "necessary" as you suggest, why did the Apostle John write about love instead of doctrine? I refer you to 1 John 3: 10-15, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him" and verse 23, "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us."


Rex Ray said...

To know about Christ apart from the Bible is to take his advice. He said to see the lilies and a sparrow does not fall that his Father does not know about. How about the hairs on our heads?

God’s ways are not man’s ways. Man would have picked ‘better’ ancestors for Jesus. Man would have picked ‘better’ ingredients for healing (like James’ oil) but Jesus used spit.

Starting with Adam, man has given advice or correction to God from the beginning. Adam blamed God for the woman.

James C. Denison, pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas has written an interesting article on ‘Inerrant’.


He concludes with this statement:

“My rejection of the word "inerrant" is thus in no way a challenge to the absolute trustworthiness of God's word. This trustworthiness I accept and preach wholeheartedly. Rather, it seems clear to me that any word with at least eight definitions and twelve qualifications has lost its value as a simple, common test of anything. Let us cease insisting on certain words of men and return to proclaiming the word of God. The one is not the other.”

I like your writing.

wadeburleson.org said...

Amy Downey,

My view of Scripture never goes down, only up. The number of dogmatic people who slam others who disagree with them should be going down in the SBC, not up.

Your concern for my view of Scripture is misplaced through ignorance of both me and my ministiry. I would, Amy Downey, focus on doing everything possible to make the SBC more open and welcome of people with different interpretations rather than pulling out the old weapon of accusing people with whom you disagree of not believing the Bible.


Christiane said...

Dear Baptist Hereticus:

Please read this quote Wade wrote:

"One of the problems with we inerrantists is that we have lost the ability to be humble and simply say, "I could be wrong. I will hold to my position, because I believe it is the right one, but I will never sever fellowship, relationship or cooperative ministry with you because we have the same Father and are part of His family."

I think you misunderstand.
Wade is not for excluding those who differ on secondary and tertiary differences from the SBC table. He has been a voice for reason and that part about 'we have the same Father and are part of His family' echoes from the ninth century part of a Christian hymn:

'No race or creed can love exclude
if honored be God's name,
Our brotherhood embraces all
Whose Father is the Same'

Wade knows that strife can end when Christians begin to honor that Christ dwells in their midst.
He is working towards that end in the best way he knows how, in the tradition of the Southern Baptist faith. I think you can be proud of him. Love, L's

Byroniac said...

Rex Ray:

I hate to go off-topic here, but I left a question for you on the "SBC Bullies" post. Did you see it? Thanks.

Michael Ruffin said...

But Christiane, is it not true that Wade classifies the affirmation of "inerrancy" as a primary and not secondary or tertiary issue? It seems to me that he does. I can grant that divine inspiration and ongoing authority of the Bible is a primary issue, but "inerrancy" is at best secondary, given the problems with the term.

John Fariss said...

BTW Amy, I have heard Cecil Sherman speak, and based on my memory (admittedly not inerrant), I believe you have somewhat overstated his case. What I got out of his statement about the virgin birth (which he affirmed by the way, at least that is my recollection from when I heard him) was that the more conservative evangelicals (including Baptists) had made an emphasis of something that overall the New Testament writers did not emphasize. Consequently, he would put as much, yet no more, emphasis on it than did the NT writers.


Lydia said...

"BTW Amy, I have heard Cecil Sherman speak, and based on my memory (admittedly not inerrant), I believe you have somewhat overstated his case. What I got out of his statement about the virgin birth (which he affirmed by the way, at least that is my recollection from when I heard him) was that the more conservative evangelicals (including Baptists) had made an emphasis of something that overall the New Testament writers did not emphasize. Consequently, he would put as much, yet no more, emphasis on it than did the NT writers."

For this reason, I now check every single thing they say about anyone or any issue. I have found the exact same twisting of words in order to rally the troops. It works and I am very sorry I believed wrong things about folks for so many years.

All one must do is say 'liberal' or inerrancy and like Pavlovs dogs folks have been trained to believe it. Wade writes about it for discussion, making his view clear, yet we will hear he is on the 'slippery slope' to not believing in inerrancy. When folks are scared to have discussions on different views, you know things have gone too far.

So, I guess that makes me liberal because I believe scripture is inerrant but translators are not.

That is why one MUST prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth as we read and study. Otherwise, it is either a history book or a club to beat folks with.

We have the BEST teacher as scripture teaches: The Holy Spirit.

Christiane said...


It's me, L's

I'm blogging too much, I know, but today, I go back to my surgeon and maybe get permission to go back out into world again. (I've been on home health care and home physical therapy, and restricted to 'house care'. Today I will be like a bird let out of a cage, and then I won't chirp so much here and drive people nuts. :)

JOHN, thank you for your comment.
Actually, I see the Bible in a much more expanded role than the inerrantist faith does. I just don't see that it contains all scientific and historical details completely.

You may like my writing but I like your writing MORE!
That story about golfers getting an average of forty-one miles to the gallon is priceless. My husband LOVED IT. I am one of the greatest fans of your stories.
Much love, your friend L's

If you carefully read Wade's blog, he distinguishes between them what 'says' they believe and them whose actions prove that they are not telling the truth.
I think Wade is trying to speak for inerrantists to show INTEGRITY so that Christians can at least see something in the inerrantist faith that is not hypocritical.
If I misunderstood, I'm sorry. It happens. I am not a Baptist.
But thank you for your note. Love, L's

P.S. Has anyone heard anything lately about Bob Cleveland? He has not blogged here in a while and I am concerned for his health.

Denn said...

My father's reminder, softly spoken, was often, "Just because you believe it, doesn't make it true."

Michael Ruffin said...

Thanks, L's. I do think that you rightly describe what Wade is trying to do/say/delineate.

For better or for worse, the swearing of allegiance to the term "inerrancy" has been for a long time, is now, and will for a long time be the Southern Baptist Rubicon. Some of us can't cross in one direction, others of us can't cross in the other. A few others (maybe Wade and I are both among them) are trying to stand in the middle but we will likely drown, given that folks on either or both sides of us are all too willing to pour more water on us.

C'est la vie.

bapticus hereticus said...

Christiane: I think you [i.e., bapticus hereticus] misunderstand. Wade is not for excluding those who differ on secondary and tertiary differences from the SBC table. He has been a voice for reason ....

bapticus hereticus: i'm not sure what kind of voice Wade is for the SBC, but i will affirm the coyness of his voice. while he allows for himself (and other inerrantists) a possibility of being wrong, such would not disqualify him (or other inerrantists) from teaching or leading, but such would disqualify the non-inerrantist for they are already considered out-of-bounds. further, while he will work in ministry beside the non-inerrantist, will he advocate for the non-inerrantist to teach and lead? to date, this has not been the case. until he is willing to share theological reflection and decision-making responsibilities (not just choice of chosen alternatives, but the more basic task of problem identification), his words are hollow and will not lead to a more Spirit-led convention. one cannot expect a mature relationship among people when one chooses the role of adult for self but insists on relating to the other as child.

in terms of inerrancy being a primary theological issue, consider this thread. even among SB conservatives, much doubt is cast concerning its efficacy and importance. even 2KBFM and the many chances conservatives have had to further amend it, leaves the question of inerrancy open. while not wanting to intellectually defend it, but wanting to use it as a tool for control, conservatives give you language in 2KBFM that allows for its use when it is needed and plausible deniability of its importance when intellectually pressed. is this the way a body communicates issues central to its existence?

Steve said...

I have always been interested in the use of such powerful weapon words as "inerrant." When we have the words "true" and "believe" already available, I have to assume "inerrant" is not so much talking about anything about Our Lord so much as a man-created grouping, with alliegances, friends, and enemies. The inerrancy deal has always come across as just the latest excuse for judgementalism and authoritarianism, which surely do come from a prince, but unfortunately not the Prince of Peace.

Ramesh said...

Off Topic to this post:

Former Jacksonville pastor pleads guilty; sex offender Gilyard will get 3 years.
Former pastor Darrell Gilyard pleaded guilty this morning to molesting a teenage girl from his Jacksonville church and sending lewd text messages to another.

Gilyard will be sentenced June 11 to three years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender under terms of his plea agreement. His prison term will be followed by three years of sex-offender probation requiring him to avoid contact with children and limiting where he can live.

The mother of one of his victims told Gilyard in court that he "lived a lie" and that she would pray for him.

Gilyard and his lawyer left court out a back door to avoid reporters.

Gilyard, 47, was arrested 16 months ago and has been free on his own recognizance. He remained free until his sentencing. Circuit Judge Michael Weatherby warned him he would face up to 15 years in prison if he doesn't show up for sentencing.

The former pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church had faced two felony counts of lewd conduct involving sexually explicit text messages sent to a teenage girl and one felony count of lewd molestation for fondling a teenage girl whose parents sought counseling for her from the pastor. One of the texting counts was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

A Palatka native, Gilyard rose quickly to prominence after seminary, pastoring one of the nation's fastest-growing churches while still in his 20s. He left that church in Texas amid accusations of sexual impropriety and came to Shiloh in 1993.

For more on Gilyard's plea, check back on Jacksonville.com and see Friday's Times-Union

Ramesh said...

News4Jax > Ex-Pastor Pleads Guilty To Sex Charges.
After the plea, his lawyer rushed Gilyard out a side door.

Prosecutors said Gilyard has a history of inappropriate relationships with his parishioners.

"He was a person who obviously could not control his sexual desires," said Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi. "He used his position of trust to gain access to children and he used that position of trust to gratify himself."

Other women have come forward to say Gilyard had inappropriate relationships with them, but the only criminal charges included the two juveniles

Tim Marsh said...


Sorry for being unclear. I agree with you to this extent. I do not believe that we can uncover a "historical Jesus" or that the Bible presents an unreliable picture of Jesus.

The Jesus that we pray to is known according to the four evangelists' witness to Jesus, the gospel as presented in the epistles and proclaimed in Acts, and the Jesus who will consumate history according to Revelation and other eschatological texts in the NT.

However, it is important to remember that Jesus was known apart from a text accessible to the people for over 1500 years. Did God not save them?

John Farris is right on with his comments. I would agree 100%.

Ramesh said...

FirstCoastNews > Former Shiloh Pastor Pleads Guilty to Molesting Teen.

Jon L. Estes said...

The problem is not inerrancy but with the heart of man (inerrantist or not). I think a better working title to this blog could be...

Claiming inerrancy means we should not...Not asking you to change the title but do find problem with making inerrancy the issue when it is not.

.02 deposited!

Jeff said...

Tim, Clarify what you mean for 1500 years? I am not sure what you mean.

Darrell said...

Can a person truly love Jesus if they have never read the Bible? (Ps 22:9)

Can a person truly be saved if they never read or study past Acts chapter 2? (Acts 2:21)(Acts 16:31)

Can a person who is not an inerrantist lead someone to Jesus? (John 6:44)

If a non-inerrantist does lead someone to Jesus, who saves them?

If a liberal who does not believe every sentence in the Bible is the Word of God tells someone of Christ and the hearer give their life to Christ, who saves them?(acts 2:21)

Just wondering


P. Day said...

"Inerrant" = containing no errors. A good word, if we are to read the bible as one dimensional as 1 + 1 = 2. In that case, it is true in that it is accurate.

But it seems to me that "truth" can be discerned on far deeper levels than "accuracy". And with much richer, more meaningful understanding.

The bible is full of truth on many levels: literal truth, historical truth, cultural truth, metaphorical truth, relational truth,....

I see a tendency in hardline proponents of biblical inerrancy, and that is an inability to see truth in metaphorical ways. To be able to appreciate truth, be touched by it, much less see it, when it is depicted in figurative ways with great imagination in writing, music, art. What a tragedy.

I feel certain that the deeper aspects of truth, which cannot possibly be adequately expressed in literal words, are communicated and gleaned through figurative means.

Anonymous said...

Yo P-Diddy:

As to your last paragraph: Duh!

As to your third: "metaphorically speaking" HOG WASH!


Now, here is what you meant to say: There is truth, and then there is non-truth. That is it. However, truth can be applied and delivered in many different way.

Glad I could help,


Ramesh said...

let's stop pastor darrell gilyard together > You are no longer silenced.
But, how sad it was to sit there and watch a man with such gifts, such potential, hang his head as he received the sentence for crimes that he hoped no one would ever know of. The same crimes he has intimidated people from reporting, the ones he has tried to convince others did not happen, the ones he himself has adamantly denied - until now. What a shame, I am truly sad for him.

Ramesh said...

ABP News > Former rising star preacher pleads guilty to molestation.
A woman who claimed she resisted sexual advances by Gilyard when she was 18 and a youth leader at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville in 1991, started a blog in 2008 urging others with similar stories to come forward.

Tiffany Thigpen Croft said in a recent posting she was not rejoicing about Gilyard's downfall, but she labeled him a sexual predator and said he should suffer consequences for his actions. Croft said if Gilyard had not been sentenced "I am confident that there would be more victims."

In April Gilyard settled a lawsuit with a woman who claimed he sexually assaulted and got her pregnant, but a paternity suit against him continues. According to the Florida Times-Union, an earlier sexual misconduct case against him was settled quietly by his church for $300,000

Jacksonville News > Former Jacksonville pastor pleads guilty in sex case.
“You taught us the truth ... but you lived a lie,” one victim’s mother told Gilyard, 47, in court. She said she’d continue praying for him.
So was a woman who writes a blog titled “let’s stop pastor darrell gilyard together.” Tiffany Thigpen Croft said she watched Thursday’s court proceedings with a mixture of satisfaction for Gilyard’s victims and sadness for the self-imposed downfall of a talented preacher. Most importantly, she said Gilyard won’t be able to harm anyone else while locked up.

“This is for all the victims that were never heard,” she said. “It’s time to heal.”

Darrell said...

Just to explain the title:



2 years ago i wrote a piece on the wolves in the church and recently updated it. aT THE RISK OF being guilty of "SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION" I might tell you I have posted it again on my new blog site.


Tim Marsh said...


From the time of Christ until the invention of the printing press in circa 1500 AD, scriptures were hand copied. From Constantine (312 AD) until around 1500 AD, the church possessed copies of Biblical manuscripts. Most were translated into Latin. It was a crime to translate the texts into the common language of the people. Common people only HEARD the text in Mass, and only in Latin for the overwhelming majority of that time.

Until Martin Luther's German Bible and Tyndale's English in the 16th century, and until the printing press made it possible to mass produce books, common people were unable to own Bibles.

So, could people know Christ without scripture? If you answer "no" then millions of church-going common people were lost over the duration of 12-15 centuries.

Furthermore, how would others in the NT time get saved? The NT had not been written and compiled yet.

Paul gives us the answer in 1 Thessalonians 1:3-10.

Tim Marsh said...


Also, rereading my initial post, I did not mean to say that it is totally without scripture. I do believe that today, there is not much excuse for people not to have a Bible. I just came from a Gideon Banquet, and was reminded how cheap Bibles are produced and distributed. We have translations in many different languages.

However, that was not always the case. The church did not seem to think that it was feasible or necessary for all common people to possess a Bible.

Jeff said...


I do not have all the answers, but it is my understanding that for the most part the Gospel was at least preached to them. There may have been no personal copies of Scripture, but the Gospel was preached to them.

To a degree, this might be an apples and oranges comparison because the Scriptures did exist even though there were no personal copies (or not widespread). Those Scriptures to me are inerrant, and all the other terms I would need to use at this point. :)

I hope that makes sense.

andrewm said...
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andrewm said...
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Tim Marsh said...


No problem with saying that the texts were the Word of God, though the Vulgate was not a "perfect" translation.

However, it is unclear the role of preaching in the church from 300 - 1500 AD. That is how important the Reformation was, and even the subsequent Catholic Counter-reformation.

The emphasis in Protestant life moved to the teaching, preaching, study, and translating the Bible as opposed to the "Mass" or Communion.

I think that we are agreeing. Again, we must know the Jesus presented in scripture as opposed to some reconstructed historical Jesus. However, reading the Bible directly by common folks is something rather new in the history of the world.

Christiane said...

Hi JEFF and TIM,

There is something very touching in Jeff's question and Tim, I know you are wonderfully trying to help him.

This is what I can tell you, in the confines of 'my comfort level' of being a Catholic who does not wish to introduce Catholic 'doctrines' into this blog, out of respect for Wade:

There was a 'Bible' used by the early Christians which was prominent in use up until about 150
Anno Domini: the Septuagint, which was the Greek Old Testament.
The way it was used was that Christ was preached as a fulfillment of the O.T. For a number of years, oral tradition preached Christ as the Apostles taught their followers and their followers taught others. As the written texts of the Gospel was written down, it was, or course, not in the form of a 'Bible' at first, but in separate manuscipts, to be treasured and to be copied faithfully and carried throughout the early Christian world. Then came the 'letters' which were directed primarily to the recipients, but which contain much teaching for all Christians. And so the NT came into being.

When the 'cannon' of Sacred Scripture was formed, there was much response to the pressures of teachings which the Church rejected (Gnostics are an example).

Throughout the centuries, the copying by hand of sacred scripture in monasteries kept the Word preserved until the time when the printing press was invented.

But what of the Church in all the intervening years? The answer is in the way the liturgy was formed: ways of preaching, teaching, reading aloud, and following a 'liturgical year' that celebrated Christ's life on the Earth.

Protestants still have a remnant of this in their celebration of Christmas and of Easter.

Catholics have a much deeper celebration of the liturgy throughout the year.

If you enter a Catholic church, you will see many 'visual aids' that teach of Christ and His followers, and the events in His life, death, and Resurrection.
And so it was, that these 'visual aids' taught of Him during the times when people did not or could not read the scriptures for themselves. Also, the Holy Days, or 'holidays' throughout the year, celebrated the lives of the saints and martyrs in their testimony and witness of the Christ.

There is much more I can share, but it begins to get into the practice of my religion, which I think might confuse you, more than help understanding.

Jeff, I am very moved by your question and concern for the Christians who lived prior to the development of the printing press. Love, L's

Tim Marsh said...


Thank you for the reminder of the beautiful liturgy of Catholic services.

I am originally from B'ham, AL, where the EWTN station is located. In fact, my in-laws live a little over a block from the convent and the station.

I hope that I did not belittle these traditions in my response.

However, I am Baptist and support the Baptist tradition because of the emphasis on each member reading the Bible, and on the role of the church in teaching scripture.

You also mentioned eschatology, I have read and studied Pope Benedict XVI's (then Cardinal Ratzinger) work on Eschatology. It is interesting and a blessing to see some dividing walls between the Catholic Tradition and the Baptist Tradition opening up for dialogue. Blessings!

Christiane said...


I have often thought how much of my faith's history might be something that has nourished some of the Protestant faiths that have 'separate traditions'. I think that some good has come through and we will see the good-faith among us as we reach out to each other for His Sake.

There are some shared hymns, prayers, and some shared core doctrines.

I am so aware that there are 'differences', but you know, Tim, I believe that, in time, in some way we cannot know yet, the Holy Spirit and the Lord Christ will bring Christians together.

In the meantime, I am focusing on the Christ that is at the center of all Christian denominations.
In that way, the 'divisions' fade away, and we are connected in Him, with Him, and through Him.

Remember, Tim, all those divisions were not of His doing, but were man-made. He can heal the breach.
I know He will some day.

I don't feel so 'separated' from my Christian brothers and sisters of any denomination, although they may not feel close to me, doesn't matter, just so they are close to Our Lord. God Bless You, Tim.
Love, L's

P.S. I must tell you that my dear Grandmother, of blessed memory, was a Southern Baptist. When I think of what it means to be a
Christian, I think of her first. :)