Thinking Through Implications of Inerrancy: A Discussion with John Frame

sketch-of-frameEven nerds have heroes. I was a strange kid. I never idolized Michael Jordan or any other sports stars. I never aspired to be like some actor or musician. I was a nerd, am a nerd, and so my heroes have always been academicians of some sort. A man whom I have come to love and respect in recent years as a theologian is John Frame, J.D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary. There’s much about Dr. Frame that I love, but his cogent and accessible thought stands out dramatically.

As I have spent the last several months continue to chew on the issue of inerrancy I thought it would be great to hear some thoughts from Dr. Frame. I have enjoyed numerous conversations with him over the years and he has always offered insightful reflection on the subject of interpreting, understanding, and applying the Scriptures. Dr. Frame was gracious enough to answer a few questions on the subject of inerrancy for the blog. Due to his schedule he was not able to give extended answers, which he regretted, but I believe these will benefit us nonetheless. Happy reading, friends.

1) How are modern attacks against inerrancy, especially from within Evangelicalism (think Pete Enns or Scot McKnight), different from common liberal attacks of years past? 

Not terribly different, though Enns and McKnight appeal to more recent academic literature. They attack the consistency and historicity of Scripture, as the older liberals did.

2)  How should our belief in the inerrancy of Scripture relate to our use and understanding of church creeds, confessions, and statements of faith? 

Well, the creeds affirm inerrancy, and we cannot really subscribe to them if we are unwilling to affirm it as well. But of course the authority of Scripture is higher than that of the creeds. So even if the creeds taught something different, we would be obligated to hold to Scripture as our ultimate authority.

3) How do you defend against the charge of “Bibliolatry” while still affirming the strong conviction in Biblical inspiration and inerrancy?

Bibliolatry is worship of the Bible. In its normal meaning it would imply bowing before paper, ink, or other created media. We should not do that. But we should receive the message of the Bible as God’s very words directed to us. Those words are distinct from the media on which they are recorded. So to accept those words as God’s is not to bow before created media.

4)  How can we honestly wrestle with difficulties in the text of Scripture (seeming contradictions, tensions, and historical anomalies) while still submitting to the authority of Scripture?

We confess that we don’t always know the answers to these problems. We do the best we can with them. But when we really don’t know, we admit it honestly, rather than buying into a fake answer.

5) How should the doctrine of inerrancy inform our theological methodology? 

Many ways. (1) We should always assume that there is a solution to every problem, even if we cannot identify that solution. (2) We acknowledge the legitimacy of harmonizing texts, but we try to avoid “fake” harmonization. (3) We recognize what Scripture says about the Word of God as a cornerstone of our theology. (4) We should care more about what Scripture says than about what the scholars think. And much more…

Blessings,

John Frame

 

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