The issue of inerrancy has and continues to remain a foundational element of the fundamentalist movement. It is from the doctrine of inerrancy that most of the accepted fundamentalist beliefs such as the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the vicarious atonement, and the bodily second coming of Christ were founded upon. As noted by fundamentalist scholar and author George Marsden, “Inerrancy, which was to become a code word for much of the fundamentalist movement, had a scientific quality that was related to the view of truth as directly apprehended facts.” As such, inerrancy drove fundamentalist doctrine in a number of key areas as well as the fundamentalist response to modernism, liberalism, evolution, and later efforts at separatism.
Biblical stalwarts such as the Princeton theologians stood against the growing tide of higher criticism and theological liberalism that seemed to be crashing from Europe against the shores of the American theological establishment. As numerous denominations and religious institutions succumbed to the influence of modernism and liberalism, it was conservative scholars such as A. A. Hodge, C. I. Scofield and institutions such as the Princeton Theological Seminary and the Moody Bible Institute who, at least for a time, tried to stem the tide of attacks against the inerrancy of scripture. Scholars such as J. Gresham Machen “who only reluctantly bore the name of fundamentalist,” “fully supported the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.”
A belief in inerrancy by most fundamentalists greatly contributed to the development of various doctrines of the movement in an effort to demonstrate the trustworthiness of scripture. Additionally, this belief provided a means by which to engage the influence and spread of Darwinian evolution and it continues to this day to be a foundational element for interpreting scripture. Fundamentalism and fundamentalist doctrine has centered largely on the issue of inerrancy and the response to those who seek to denigrate scripture by questioning inerrancy as a necessary and prominent issue of the faith. This paper will focus on the development of inerrancy as a fundamental doctrine of the fundamentalist movement, strategically important documents and events which helped shape inerrancy as a vital issue in the fundamentalist perspective, as well as modern trends in the fundamentalist approach to inerrancy. Continue reading “Michael Boling – Inerrancy as an Issue in the Fundamentalist Movement: 1900 to the Present”