Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible

Overview

Though the Bible presents a personal and relational God, popular modern worldviews portray an impersonal divine force in a purely material world. Readers influenced by this competing worldview hold assumptions about fundamental issues—like the nature of humanity, evil, and the purpose of life—that present profound obstacles to understanding the Bible.

In Inerrancy and Worldview, Dr. Vern Poythress offers the first worldview-based defense of scriptural inerrancy, showing how ...

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Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible

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Overview

Though the Bible presents a personal and relational God, popular modern worldviews portray an impersonal divine force in a purely material world. Readers influenced by this competing worldview hold assumptions about fundamental issues—like the nature of humanity, evil, and the purpose of life—that present profound obstacles to understanding the Bible.

In Inerrancy and Worldview, Dr. Vern Poythress offers the first worldview-based defense of scriptural inerrancy, showing how worldview differences create or aggravate most perceived difficulties with the Bible. His positive case for biblical inerrancy implicitly critiques the worldview of theologians like Enns, Sparks, Allert, and McGowan. Poythress, who has researched and published in a variety of fields— including science, linguistics, and sociology—deals skillfully with the challenges presented in each of these disciplines. By directly addressing key examples in each field, Poythress shows that many difficulties can be resolved simply by exposing the influence of modern materialism.

Inerrancy and Worldview’s positive response to current attempts to abandon or redefine inerrancy will enable Christians to respond well to modern challenges by employing a worldview that allows the Bible to speak on its own terms.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“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, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, 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 Theology, Chair, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; Pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada, California

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433523878
  • Publisher: Crossway Books
  • Publication date: 5/2/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Vern S. Poythress is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he has taught for over three decades. He has six earned degrees, including a PhD from Harvard University and a ThD from the University of Stellenbosch. He is the author of numerous books on a variety of topics, including biblical interpretation, language, and science.

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Table of Contents

Preface 13

Introduction 15

Part 1 Two Common Religious Difficulties

1 How Can Only One Religion Be Right? 19

2 Are Moral Rules a Straitjacket? 23

Part 2 Challenges From Science and Materialism

3 Worldviews and Materialism 27

4 Modern Science 34

Part 3 Challenges from History

5 The Historical-Critical Tradition 45

6 Responding to Historical Criticism 51

7 The Change from History to Structure 56

Part 4 Challenges About Language

8 Challenges from Linguistics and Philosophy of Language 61

9 Words and Meanings concerning Many "Gods" 71

10 Growth in Understanding 79

11 Contexts for Language 85

12 The Idea of Closed Language 91

13 Breaking Out of Closure in Language 95

14 Analysis of Biblical Narratives 102

Part 5 Challenges From Sociology and Anthropology

15 Challenges from Sociology 107

16 The Idea of Closure of Culture 114

17 Breaking Out of Closure in Culture 118

18 Marxism and Feminism 121

Part 6 Challenges from Psychology

19 Challenges concerning Cognition 129

20 Interaction of Minds 134

21 Thinking about the Inspiration of the Bible 140

Part 7 Challenges from Examples

22 Ordinary Life and Science 147

23 Understanding an Alleged "Contradiction" 153

24 Law in Cultural Context 158

25 Proverbs in Cultural Context 168

26 The Glory of Christ 173

Part 8 Challenges from Our Attitudes

27 Do We Need Help? 181

28 Corruption in the Mind 187

29 Counterfeiting the Truth 195

30 Truth 199

31 The Bible 205

32 The Danger of Pride 212

Part 9 Challenges From Corrupt Spirituality

33 Religious Gullibility 219

34 The Nature of Ultimate Commitments 226

35 Why Are We So Gullible? 231

Part 10 Conclusion

36 Scripture and Worldviews 237

Appendix: Human Authors of the Bible 245

Bibliography 253

General Index 259

Scripture Index 266

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