Five Views on Inerrancy

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I like the ‘counterpoints’ series of books. They provide a helpful introduction to a particular issue which can then be explored elsewhere in greater detail if so desired. I’ve just finished the five views on inerrancy book which, if I’m honest, was a bit of mixed bag. In general terms it was useful, but some essays felt rushed or just a bit odd. Each contributor was asked to defend their view with reference to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, and then to address some potential problem passages including the conquest of Jericho and the Canaanite genocide (if that is the right way to understand it!).

Al Mohler goes first. The sum of his argument comes across as ‘The Bible is inerrant because the Chicago statement says so. If you question that you’re a heretic.’ For Mohler modern archaeology can take a jump, because the Bible says what it says. Mmm . . . not really an argument!

Peter Enns goes second. He says, in essence, you can’t believe in inerrancy any more, cos we all know what the archaeology says, and the OT docs are late and legendary. Again, not really much of an argument here. Enns is the polar opposite of Mohler, and comes across just as shrill.

Michael Bird is next in to bat. His essay is just a bid odd. In essence he says the church globally and historically has done fine without the Chicago statement, so the Americans should wind their necks in. Again, a bit shrill and polemical and not all that constructive.

John Franke offers the last essay. He takes a Barthian approach – the word as witness to revelation – which permits him all sorts of odd leaps of logic in terms of the role of Scripture in the contemporary church. A bit all over the place this one.

But, the best, by a country mile, was essay four by one of my favourite theologians – Kevin Vanhoozer. His essay was nuanced, constructive, theologically aware, and brilliant on literary genre and function. His essay was worth the price of the book alone.

Would I recommend this book to read. Yes. It’s illuminating and instructive in a number of ways, not least in helping the reader think about methodology (in positive and negative terms). But, if these were undergrad essays, I think you’d have to say only Vanhoozer answered the question.

The 4 ‘C’s and The Toughest Person to Manage

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Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing Bill Hybels share 40 years worth of wisdom on leadership. He said many helpful things, but two in particular struck me.

First, he talked about the 4 ‘C’s you need to look for in a leader. They are:

  1. Character – ungodly leaders are wrecking balls . . . keep them away from anything you value!
  2. Competence – being godly and faithful isn’t enough; they have to have a gift in the area you want them to lead
  3. Chemistry – are they able to get on well with others? This is related to character but a little different. You could have a godly person who struggles to relate to others – that person might be a good team member, but not a good leader.
  4. Culture – does this person understand the cultural values of your church. This is more than ‘sound doctrine.’ For example if you have a particular way of doing your youth ministry, or a worship style, and somebody simply doesn’t buy into it they won’t make a good leader. As above they may be a good team player, and hopefully they may come to understand and value the culture, but until they do they shouldn’t take significant leadership.

Second, Bill talked about how to lead the most difficult person. Who’s that I hear you ask? That would be you! Bill suggests that the greatest challenge for most leaders is learning how to lead themselves. Leaders constantly need to evaluate where to spend their energy and time, and how to keep themselves replenished. Leaders who are physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually empty are dangerous to themselves and anyone near them. So we need to do two things:

  1. Identify the warning signs. If you’re near empty do you get irritable, depressed, do you slob on the couch, snap at the kids, over-eat, under-eat, drink, or struggle to sleep? Identify, then act.
  2. Leaders need to identify not just the warning signs but their sources of replenishment. It may be exercise, bird-watching, reading, coffee-drinking, a long walk in the hills or by water, time with grand kids. What is it that fills up the tanks – and ink it in (not pencil it in) to your diary. It’s good for you, and good for the people near you. I’d suggest this is true not just for leaders, but for all of us.

If you do lead a team, why not sit them down for an hour and discuss ‘warning signs’ and ‘sources of replenishment’ – then do something about it!

Thoughts?