Olson on Narrative Theology and Inerrancy

For those interested in the nature of narrative theology and how it is distinguished from propositional theology, this online post Roger E. Olson outlines that nature of narrative theology in a very clear and helpful way.[1]

I appreciate his ninth point that “Narrative theology has no need of ‘biblical inerrancy;’ perfection with respect to purpose is sufficient to express biblical accuracy and authority.’ I have had similar thoughts along these lines. I personally feel no need to believe or assert biblical inerrancy. Not because I find arguments for it unpersuasive, but primarily because I’m not concerned whether the Scriptures are inerrant or not. I do not see why we would need such a thing as an innerrant set of Scriptures. Reliable yes, but in every minute detail?? And I think it comes at the issue from the wrong angle and direction. As Olson writes:

We do not believe in and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior because of our belief in the Bible; we believe in the Bible because it is the unique instrument and witness of our meeting with him.

It is within the canonical narrative that we know who God is. This being the case, our confession of faith in God is concurrent with trusting the Scriptural testimony. They are in a sense inseparable, because it is the God of Scriptural testimony to whom we are entrusting ourselves, even if this is not immediately clear to us analytically.

It seems to me that the concern inerrancy seeks to address is hermeneutical. If there are features of Scriptural teaching which are false, then are people not going to pick and choose which teachings they want to affirm/follow and appeal to errors to justify this? Yes, some will. But innerancy is no defense against such picking and choosing. Many a hermeneutical road can be traveled to get to the same destination.

I have previously shared some of my own thoughts regarding the relationship between narrative and propositional theology here.

[2] While I found it slightly humorous that he outlines narrative theology in a series of numbered propositions, there is no irony here. Narrative theology is not opposed to propositions of course, that would be absurd.

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