Friday, August 22, 2014

Denying Inerrancy and World Evangelization

The importance of the doctrine of inerrancy can be seen not only in its positive presentation by defenders but also by what its denial entails.  What is the fruit of denying inerrancy?  Will there be greater devotion to Jesus Christ and the apostolic witness that testifies to him?  Will such a denial produce a greater sense of holiness and zeal?  What about the cause of world missions--will the denial of inerrancy fuel the church to bring the gospel to all nations?  John Stott has written:
It is, moreover, an observable fact of history, both past and contemporary, that the degree of the church's commitment to world evangelization is commensurate with the degree of its conviction about the authority of the Bible.  Whenever Christians lose their confidence in the Bible, they also lose their zeal for evangelism.  Conversely, whenever they are convinced about the Bible, then they are determined about evangelism. [1]
Now to be technically precise, Stott doesn't mention "inerrancy" but the broader category of the "authority" of the Bible.  Nevertheless, the issue is still germane.  Does a denial of inerrancy and, perhaps more importantly, the impulse and attitude behind such a denial lead to greater fruitfulness in world evangelism?  By their fruits you shall know them.

[1] John R. W. Stott, "The Bible in World Evangelization" in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthrone (Pasadena, CA.: William Carey Library, 1981), 3.