But Don’t All Southern Baptists Believe in Inerrancy?

Bart Barber has written an excellent blog post defending biblical inerrancy against a recent attack on the doctrine authored by the Theologian-in-Residence at the Baptist General Convention of Texas. There are some folks in the SBC (or at least the blogosphere) who want us to stop talking about inerrancy because we’ve already “won” that battle. This seems supremely naieve, in my opinion. There will always be threats to the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of Christian Scripture–and some of them will come from within. We mustn’t become lazy, lest we find ourselves squandering the theological gains of the previous generation. I am 100% in favor of moving beyond the Conservative Resurgence as we pursue a Great Commission Resurgence, but only if that means the former is a firm foundation for the latter. If the Conservative Resurgence ever becomes mere history, then the Convention will be history.

For an excellent treatment of the doctrine of Chrisitan Scripture, I highly recommend David Dockery and David Nelson’s co-authored chapter on “Special Revelation” in Daniel L. Akin, ed., A Theology for the Church (B&H Academic, 2007).

(HT: Russ Moore)

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  1. Debbie Kaufman   •  

    No one was saying we should not be willing to confront those who do not believe in inerrancy of the scriptures. The argument however was being used against those who believe inerrancy.

    Of course we know there will be those who do not believe it and it must be confronted. But we were using it against our own for differences in interpretation, and it is still being used for that. That is wrong. The battle for that was won in the CR, and while I do not believe the CR is a model to follow or even build on, if we could use it minus the innocent that were destroyed, maybe. But as a Christian, I can’t get passed those innocents and the mode in which they were destroyed.

  2. A.J. Metcalf   •  

    Many So. Bap say they believe in inerrancy,many deny inerrancy, many don’t care and many don’t know what we’re talking about. In the introduction to his book on liberalism J. Greshem Machen said that “many will turn in impatience from the inquiry.”
    In context, he was referring to the pietists who had already settled the issue for themselves and didn’t see the need for the struggle. I reject the pietists conclusions because it leaves our weaker brothers and sisters without defense and moorings although I agree with Machen that the pietists were right.
    But those who say they believe in inerrancy with their lips can also deny inerrancy, can’t they?
    Of course they can! Just think of some of the methodologies that are currently in vogue in many churches.

  3. Tom Parker   •  


    You said:

    “But as a Christian, I can’t get passed those innocents and the mode in which they were destroyed.”

    Those who supported the CR will have to give an account someday for those innocents and the mode in which they were destroyed. They were destroyed by their own christian brothers.

    Some want to idealize the CR but what it did to innocent people and the SBC is almost unforgiveable.

  4. Bart Barber   •  

    Thanks for the link, Nathan. God bless, brother.

  5. Pingback: The Errancy of Inerrancy: Bart Barber’s Critique of Jim Denison | the big daddy weave

  6. David R. Brumbelow   •  

    Thanks for your concern in the area of the inerrancy of the Bible. Bart’s article on this subject is outstanding. Thank God that all SBC seminaries now believe in and promote this doctrine that is so foundational and important to who we are.

    I remember a day when your view of inerrancy would have never come from a professor at SEBTS. May we never forget.
    David R. Brumbelow

  7. Brent Hobbs   •  

    Nathan, you said, “There are some folks in the SBC (or at least the blogosphere) who want us to stop talking about inerrancy because we’ve already “won” that battle.”

    That would have been a perfect place to provide a link or two. I’m just wondering who is saying this kind of stuff. I haven’t noticed it, but that’s certainly not to say its not out there!

  8. Joe Blackmon   •  

    Would someone please tell me who any of these “innocents” were that were injured in the CR? As far as I know, there were folks who were called out for their liberal, totally unbiblical beliefs or folks that were more moderate but not willing to take sides and wanted the liberal folks to have a voice. If these are the only people who were hurt in the CR (and I believe they were) I’m ok with that.

    So, again, can anyone name someone hurt by the CR who:
    believed in the verbal, plenary inspiration of scripture and in the inerrancy of scripture.
    believed in the deity and miracles of Jesus Christ.
    believed that the Bible IS the word of God not that it CONTAINS the word of God.
    believed that there are particular roles for men and women in the church and that women cannot be pastors.

    Anyone?? Bueler??

  9. Louis   •  

    I have already written on Bart’s blog about this enough.

    But I will say one more time that if any group of Christians want to get together and run seminaries, print Bibles and related literature, and send out missionaries, it is absolutely necessary that they have a commonly shared view about the Bible, what it is and what it teaches.

    The CR occurred because for decades before it, there was a significant divergence of opinion among some Southern Baptists as to what the Bible is, as well as what the Bible teaches. Most of the differences were between the academy and the pew. Those differences were papered over for a long time, but they could not be ignored forever.

    Whatever we do in the SBC, we should at least agree not to repeat the mistakes of the past, i.e., to proceed ahead with mission without an agreement on some essentials in Christian doctrine. That is a recipe for more discord.

    That requires continued discussion and candor, all of which should be conducted in Christian charity. The fact that sometimes there is a lack of candor by some or a lack of charity by others is not a valid excuse for ignoring or avoiding the task.


  10. kamatu   •  

    Joe Blackmon,

    If injury means some kind of loss of salvation, then no, I’m not injured.

    If injury means some kind of issue with church membership, then no, I’m not injured…much.

    If injury means some kind of issue with serving in an official unpaid capacity at an orthodox SBC affiliated church, then no, I’m not injured, as long as I carefully select and vet which church I’m a member of.

    If injury means that the pastor who baptized me officially has some “questionable” ideas according to NAMB documents online, then I’ll let you judge how that might injure a believer or perhaps the credibility of the SBC.

    If injury means that the other pastor who mentored me and taught me discipleship also officially has some “questionable” ideas according to NAMB documents online, again, I’ll let you judge how that might injure a believer or the credibility of the SBC.

    If injury means that to pursue the Great Commission I have to go outside or work only in an unofficial capacity in my local church body, I’ll let you decide that.

    If injury means that some of these limits placed on my participation in my local church are based on the bearing of false witness and justified by “well, it would be an offense/stumbling block to some”, despite this “offense” being based on false witness justified by the NAMB website, then again, I’ll let you judge.

    If injury means my local church body has to do without my time and talents in several areas because of the spurious “offense”, because I must turn elsewhere, then perhaps you might say that I’m not injured, but my local church is, but I’ll let you decide.

    If injury means that in my interactions with those who claim I’m officially “offensive”, but every extended interaction with these accusers end up with them violating at least one of the fundamentals you listed (except the last one, that one is a new to me and IMO odd one) or one of the other traditional fundamentals, but this is considered an official SBC position, then again, I’ll let you make that call. I don’t care, except that I detest seeing the Gospel of Jesus Christ “defended” by the bearing of false witness. My Lord does not need that kind of “help”.

    If injury means that I’ve been tempted to delete this entire post, because even though I should speak the truth in love, this subject remains in some ways petty and divisive and I’m also not to cause divisions in the Church, then yes, I’m injured, because I’m constantly having to balancing between this and the consideration above.

    If injury means that I know there will not be a fair hearing because certain members of the leadership of the SBC have a vested interest and I’m probably wasting my time and energy here, then yes, I’m injured.

    So there you go, here is one.

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