THE ISSUE OF INERRANCY IN FUNDAMENTALISM Part I

INTRODUCTION

At the turn of the twentieth century, those involved in the Protestant movement, later identified as Fundamentalism, were actively engaged in the defense of the inerrancy of the Word of God in the original manuscripts against liberal theologians who believed the Bible contained falsities. Liberal theologians believed the Bible contained truth but was not entirely without error. This was especially prevalent in Germany where liberals like Rudolf Karl Bultmann denied the supernatural and the truthfulness of Scripture in cases where it presents narratives that cannot be explained by science. Narratives like the creation of Adam from the dust of the earth or the virgin conception of the Son of God are examples of Scriptural accounts that liberals challenge as fictitious or mythological. Higher criticism, with origins also in Europe, attacked the credibility of Scripture with various theories denying the traditional orthodox understanding of authorship. One example was the JEPD theory or Documentary Hypothesis advanced by Julius Wellhausen which denied the traditional understanding that Moses authored the Pentateuch and the book of Joshua.

Fundamentalists, from various mainline denominations, like R.A. Torrey, C.I. Scofield, A.C. Dixon, W.B. Riley, J. Gresham Machen, J. Frank Norris, John R. Rice and countless other pastors and professors, fought against attacks on the authority and truthfulness of the Bible. According to Dr. David O. Beale, of Bob Jones University, these fundamentalists did not agree on every interpretation of the Bible, especially in the area of eschatology, but they did unite on the “Bible alone, without question, as the divinely and verbally inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God.” Dr. P.D. Feinberg gives significant credit to “Princeton theologians Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, and B.B. Warfield as modern formulators and defenders of the full inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.”

It is nearly impossible to overemphasize the importance a fundamentalist places on the authority and reliability of the Bible. For over one hundred years fundamentalists have held the inerrancy of the Bible as a supremely important fundamental of the faith once delivered by the Lord Jesus and His Apostles. However, it appears that at the turn of the century, some fundamentalists have also begun to fight over the inerrancy of one particular translation—the King James Bible—with the same intensity and energy of their forefathers at the previous turn of the century. Dr. William W. Combs, of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, writes “today there are those who teach that one Bible, the KJV, has no errors. Certainly, no one is arguing, or has apparently every argued, that any other English translation is without error.” But today fundamentalist professors, preachers, and papers like the Sword of the Lord are more concerned with defending the preeminence of the KJV Bible than the inerrancy of the original manuscripts. Sword of the Lord Publishers, first online Article of Faith presents the KJV Bible as inerrant. The fight has changed and the preeminent fundamentalists of the twentieth century would not agree with some of the fundamentalists of the twenty-first century concerning what is and is not inerrrant. The purpose of this paper is to familiarize the reader with the original fight that began in the 1900s and the transition that has occurred in the some camps of the fundamentalist movement in the present age.

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