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Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Paperback – May 31, 2012
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“I can think of no one in the world better qualified to write a defense of biblical inerrancy than my lifelong friend Vern Poythress. This book is no ordinary defense of inerrancy that merely focuses on proposed solutions to several difficult verses (though it does examine some of them). Rather, it is a wide-ranging analysis that exposes the faulty intellectual assumptions that underlie challenges to the Bible from every major academic discipline in the modern university world. I think every Christian student at every secular university should read and absorb the arguments in this book. It is profoundly wise, insightful, and clearly written, and it will surely strengthen every reader’s confidence in the trustworthiness of the Bible as the very words of God.”
—Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary
“Vern Poythress has written what I consider to be definitive books on many subjects, including biblical interpretation, language, science, and sociology. In Inerrancy and Worldview, he brings his insights from these disciplines and more together to address the relation of biblical inerrancy to worldview. He shows quite convincingly that the issue of inerrancy is not just a matter of asking whether this or that biblical passage is factual. Rather, our attitude toward the claim of biblical inerrancy depends on our general view of how God is related to the cosmos and to us as individuals and societies. And that general view, in turn, depends on our relationship to Jesus Christ. The book gets deeper into the question of inerrancy than any other book I know.”
—John M. Frame, professor of systematic theology and philosophy emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
“Every new item that Vern Poythress writes is thoughtful, creative, and worth reading. This book is no exception. Among the many things I like about it is his emphasis on the personalist worldview of the Bible, as over against the impersonalism that dominates modern Western culture. Besides its crucial contribution to his own subject in clarifying how it is that God communicates to us through the Bible, I think this basic idea will be fruitful for a good number of other topics as well. Thanks, Dr. Poythress, and thanks, God, for giving him to the Church.”
—C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary; author, The God of Miracles, Science, and Faith: Friends or Foes?
“Vern Poythress has provided both the church and the academy a remarkable service with Inerrancy and Worldview. Recognizing that the modern objection to Scripture is neither univocal nor objective, but rather varied and religious, he helpfully reframes the discussion in terms of competing worldviews. By surveying the various options for the allegiance of the modern mind, Poythress shows that not only is an inerrant Bible a reasonable expectation of a personal God, but our rejection of it is rooted not in evidence, but in our sinful rebellion against that God. With clear logic and pastoral care, Poythress leads us through an amazing tour of both the ‘wisdom of our age’ and the follies of our hearts, bringing us at last to the God who speaks—humbling our pride and setting our hearts free.”
—Michael Lawrence, senior pastor, Hinson Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon; author, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church
“To our shame, the response of Christians to challenges to our faith can often be dismissive, shallow, defensive, or disrespectful. On the other hand, we can err too much on the side of tolerance for error when truth is under siege. In Inerrancy and Worldview, Vern Poythress shows us how to be neither fools nor cowards. Through intelligent, informed, insightful, and respectful engagement, key foundational faith defeaters taught in many disciplines at every secular university are explained and critiqued from a biblical perspective. Poythress challenges the challenges to biblical belief at the root of their assumptions. We are left with a solid basis and defense of the Christian way of thinking. Inerrancy and Worldview should be required reading for all who want to think more deeply about their faith and defend it within a skeptical culture.”
—Erik Thoennes, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Chair, Biblical and Theological Studies Theology Department, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; Pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada, California
About the Author
Vern S. Poythress (PhD, Harvard University; ThD, University of Stellenbosch) is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has taught for nearly four decades. In addition to earning six academic degrees, he is the author of numerous books and articles on biblical interpretation, language, and science.
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Top customer reviews
The book is outlined as such:
Challenges from Science and Materialism
Challenges from History
Challenges about Language
Challenges from Sociology and Anthropology
Challenges from Psychology
Challenges from Examples
Challenges from Our Attitudes
Challenges from Corrupt Spirituality
Appendix: Human Authors of the Bible
First the positives:
This book helped to remind me not to fall into a secular or modern mindset when coming to the Bible. That seems to be something that I cycle in and out of, but after reading this book I hope that I will be more sturdy in this area. Poythress does a pretty good job of building his case, and it was all around a very positive experience to read this book and reflect upon my own worldview.
I feel like this book is mainly a response to Peter Enns' recent book "The Evolution of Adam," and that's not a bad thing. While I did thoroughly enjoy Enns' book, I was unnerved by the very secular feel that it had, and this book was exactly what I needed in response!
The best part of the book was near the end (chapters 27-36) in the sections "Challenges from Our Attitudes" and "Challenges from Corrupt Spirituality" plus the appendix. I found that the personal reflection was very challenging and thought provoking, as he challenged my pride and view of truth. I would recommend this book even if these were the only chapters.
Then the negatives:
This book suffers from the way it distinguishes chapters from sections. For example, the section "Challenges from History" could easily be a chapter (as could all sections), but instead it is split into an entire section. In other words, the way that chapters are split makes the book awkward. I think that whoever the editor of this book was should be fired for not telling Poythress to reform his sections into chapters. Every time that there was a build up to the point where something significant or a major point should have been, there was a chapter break. Eventually I got used to this, but at the outset it was really difficult to read (I know it sounds silly, but it really wasn't). So I would suggest that before Poythress releases Inerrancy and the Gospels that he update the new book so that this problem is avoided.
I recommend this book!
Poythress almost totally ignores the current Christian literature on biblical inerrancy, except for Peter Enns' "Inspiration and Incarnation." There is no mention of or interaction with Christian Smith's "The Bible Made Impossible" or Kenton Spark's "God's Word in Human Words" or Carlos Bovell's "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Authority of Scripture" or Scot McKnight's "The Blue Parakeet," all of which were published prior to 2012. So much for "answering modern challenges to the Bible."
When he does discuss inerrancy, he focuses on a 110-year old definition of the historical-critical tradition and fails to even mention the grammatical-historical method of biblical interpretation.
When discussing days of creation, Poythress proposes the mature creation (apparent age) theory in this book and refers to chapters 5-10 of his book "Redeeming Science," in which he appeared to support analogical days of creation.
In his discussion of miracles, Poythress makes no reference to John Polkinghorne or Denis Edwards or Keith Ward or Thomas Tracy or Robert John Russell or any other current Christian thinkers on divine action.
Chapters 8-30 & 32-35 are many words that say very little about biblical inerrancy. After Chapter 7, only chapter 31 finally gets back on the topic of inerrancy.
There is a lot of worthwhile material in this book, just not much about biblical inerrancy. It needs a more accurate title and subtitle.
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