Inerrancy and writing style

From: Randy Leedy (
Date: Tue Feb 18 1997 - 14:01:06 EST

Carl Conrad wrote [you knew I'd respond, didn't you, Carl?]:

>>>Let me confess that one reason I am not an inerrantist is that I
believe that God speaks to us THROUGH these imperfect writings of
imperfect human beings, WITHOUT annulling or overriding the humanity
of the composers. And I confess that, as a serious student of Greek
language and style, I certainly do think the composers of the NT
texts might have helped us modern readers out quite a bit if they had
honestly supposed that they were writing for non-Greek-speakers two
millennia in the future instead of just for their contemporaries. And
I think that more than style is involved here; certainly Luke and
Matthew write well, the more obviously so when they are compared with
the writer of Ephesians. And while we must muddle through, with great
effort, to understand the important things that the writer of
Ephesians has to say to us, we cannot but be grateful, yes, and thank
God, that Matthew and Luke took pains in their writing to make sure
they would not be misunderstood if they could help it. Surely good
writing IS a virtue, although that doesn't mean God can't make use of
a bad writer.

The part of me that likes to avoid theological controversy tells me
to let this pass, but my conscience tells me that somthing is wrong
if I'm willing to defend my view of the synonyms in John 21 but not
my view of the reliability of Scripture. Those who are not interested
in what my conscience requires me to state may simply avail
themselves of the power of the DELETE key.

Since this is a forum for the discussion of grammar, I will limit my
comments. I do not find it necessary to bring up the issue of
inerrancy in connection with a discussion of writing style. One can
very well be an inerrantist and yet maintain that God allowed the
writers the liberty of their own human personalities, including their
stronger or weaker writing abilities. In other words, an inerrantist
need not define inspiration as dictation. Further, inerrancy is not
related to how hard one must work to discover the truth in a given
passage of Scripture but rather whether the writer's meaning, once
discovered, is in fact the truth.

Now we're back to the assumptions again: we cannot approach the
Scripture without them. Either we assume that the Bible is free of
error or we assume that it is not. Since it clearly claims the
former, fairness would seem to demand that we start with that
assumption and continue to operate with it until it fails to answer
to the whole body of evidence as well as the errantist assumption
does. Based on clear teaching of Scripture, I can confidently
maintain that those who start with the assumption of Scripture's
inerrancy, coupled with the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of
wisdom, will encounter no reason to abandon it but will rather find
it constantly confirmed in ways that overwhelm any minor points
tending to discredit it. God has seen fit to give people enough rope
to hang themselves if that is what they insist on doing. (Apologies
to the strong Calvinists.)

Of course I don't expect everyone to agree, as much as I wish
otherwise. And I trust that those who will allow Carl the liberty to
disparage the Scripture (by contradicting its claims) while
unnecessarily dragging the issue of inerrancy into a discussion of
writing style will also allow me the liberty to defend the Scripture
in the process of trying to pull the two issues apart again.

With due respect and regard to all,

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC

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