I’ve been reading parts of Zondervan’s new Counterpoints book on inerrancy. In Al Mohler’s essay he makes the following statement, “The point is that I do not allow any line of evidence from outside the Bible to nullify to the slightest degree the truthfulness of any text in all that the text asserts and claims.” (Emphasis his. 51)
Not surprisingly three out of four of the responders picked up on this. Here’s how they responded.
Peter Enns: “Mohler needs to spend some time with these enemies of the faith to see that they are passionately committed to truth, are no more biased than the archaeologists he favors, and are actually competent to assess evidence prudently and draw conclusions. But such would not enter Mohler’s mind: ‘I do not allow any line of evidence from outside the Bible to nullify to the slightest degree the truthfulness of any text in all that the text asserts and claims.’ Such self-assurance to discern truth, Mohler concedes, ‘may appear radical to some readers’ (p. 51), but I simply see it as an unhealthy and unrealistic assessment of one’s own abilities.” (62)
Michael Bird (after quoting the statement): “There are three problems here. First, Mohler does not distinguish between the text and his interpretation of it; he conflates them. The result is that he preaches the inerrancy of the text but practices the inerrancy of his interpretation. Second, Mohler’s unyielding commitment to the Bible turns out to be a type of extreme fideism, and in practice it means a close-mindedness to examining all the evidence, pro and con, concerning the Bible and his interpretation of it. Third, Mohler has a faulty view of revelation. He forgets that God’s Word comes to us in God’s world so that God’s revelation of himself in Scripture (i.e., special revelation) is taken in tandem with God’s revelation of himself in nature and history (i.e., general revelation). The problem is that Mohler wants to interpret nature and history in light of Scripture, but not Scripture in light of history or nature. That means whenever there is a dissonance between the claims of special revelation and those of general revelation, Mohler will always find the error to be in secular interpretation of general revelation, whereas the error might just as well reside in his interpretation of special revelation!” (69-70)
Kevin Vanhoozer (after quoting the statement): “Neither do I. The relevant question, however, is whether he allows any line of evidence from outside the Bible to nullify, or rather modify, in the slightest degree the truthfulness of any interpretation of the biblical text. I’m willing to be radical about the truthfulness of Scripture too, but this radicalism or boldness must be tempered with humility as concerns my interpretations. Humility does not mean that I give up without a fight for traditional interpretations; it only means that I do not summarily rule out readings that challenge traditional interpretations, especially if they claim to make better sense of the text as it stands. After all, what is inerrant is the text, not our interpretation.” (74)