The CHICAGO STATEMENTS ON INERRANCY (1978) and Hermeneutics (1982)

Signing of Chicago Statement on Inerrancy 1978


Samples of important Articles . . .

Article XVI:

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history.

We deny that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.

 Article XVIII:

We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.

We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.


Samples of important Articles . . .

Article ΧΙΠ:

WE AFFIRM that awareness of the literary categories, formal and stylistic, of the various parts of Scripture is essential for proper exegesis, and hence we value genre criticism as one of the many disciplines of Biblical study.

WE DENY that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on Biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.

Article XIV:

WE AFFIRM that the Biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact.

WE DENY that any event, discourse or saying reported in Scripture was invented by the Biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated.

Article XV:

WE AFFIRM the necessity of interpreting the Bible according to its literal, or normal sense. The literal sense is the grammatical-historical sense—that is, the meaning which the writer expressed. Interpretation according to the literal sense will take account of all figures of speech and literary forms found in the text.

WE DENY the legitimacy of any approach to Scripture that attributes to it meaning which the literal sense does not support.

Article XVI:

WE AFFIRM that legitimate critical techniques should be used in determining the canonical text and its meaning.

WE DENY the legitimacy of allowing any method of Biblical criticism to question the truth or integrity of the writer’s expressed meaning or of any other scriptural teaching.

ICBI_1_sigs –Who signed these documents (actual signatures)?

ICBI_1_typed–Who signed these documents (the typed names)?

Question:  Why were these ICBI documents produced by these Evangelicals?

“Distressed by the confusion and drifting that we have described, and desiring the glory of God through the re-establishing in men’s minds of the authority of His infallible and inerrant Word, we offer to the Christian world these Articles of biblical authority, biblically (so we believe) understood.  As we affix our names to these Articles, we pray that by our practice we may always be enabled to adorn, and so to commend, the doctrine which we hear confess”

Precipitating Cause . . . HISTORY FORGOTTEN . . .

Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976)

Inerrancy is a “watershed” issue

In The Bible in the Balance, Lindsell dedicated a whole chapter to historical criticism, labeling it “The Bible’s Deadly enemy”:

Anyone who thinks the historical-critical method is neutral is misinformed . . . . It appears to me that modern evangelical scholars (and I may have been guilty of this myself) have played fast and loose with the term because the wanted acceptance by academia.  They seem too often to desire to be members of the club which is nothing more than practicing an inclusiveness that undercuts the normativity of the evangelical position.  This may be done, and often is, under the illusion that by this method the opponents of biblical inerrancy can be won over to the evangelical viewpoint.  But practical experience suggests that rarely does this happen and the cost of such an approach is too expensive, for it gives credence and leads respectability to a method which is the deadly enemy of theological orthodoxy. Harold Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, 283.

Jack Rogers, Confessions of A Conservative Evangelical (Philadelphia: Westminster 1974)

Jack B. Rogers and Donald K. McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach (San Francisco: Harper & Ro2, 1979). Rogers and McKim relied heavily upon the work of Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1970).

Evangelical inerrancy is “the old Princeton position of Hodge and Warfield” who had drunk deep from “Scottish common sense realism” rather than reflecting the historic position of the church. Rogers and McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach, 289-298.

“The function, or purpose, of the Bible was to bring people into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  The Bible was not used as an encyclopedia of information on all subjects.  The principle theological teachers of the church argued that the Bible not be used to judge matters of science, for example, astronomy.  Scripture’s use was clearly for salvation, not science.  The forms of the Bible’s language and its cultural context were open to scholarly investigation.  The central tradition included the concept of accommodation . . . . God had condescended and adapted himself in Scripture to our ways of thinking and speaking. . . . . To erect a standard, modern technical precision in language as the hallmark of biblical authority was totally foreign to the foundation shared by the early church.”  Jack Rogers and McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible, xxii.


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