In this excerpt from the book Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy, Peter Enns shares his initial thoughts about inerrancy from his essay, entitled, “Inerrancy, However Defined, Does Not Describe What the Bible Does.”1
The Bible is the book of God for the people of God. It reveals and conceals, is clear yet complex, open to all but impossible to master. Its message clearly reflects the cultural settings of the authors, yet it still comforts and convicts across cultures and across time.
The Bible is a book that tells one grand narrative, but by means of divergent viewpoints and different theologies. It tells of God’s acts but also reports some events that either may not have happened or have been significantly reshaped and transformed by centuries of tradition. It presents us with portraits of God and of his people that at times comfort and confirm our faith while at other times challenge and stretch our faith to its breaking point.
This is the Bible we have, the Bible God gave us. Redefining or nuancing inerrancy to account for these properties can be of some value, and some are no doubt content to do so. The core issue, however, is how inerrancy functions in contemporary evangelical theological discourse. This too varies, but when all is said and done, I do not think inerrancy can capture the Bible’s varied character and complex dynamics.