Inerrancy and Fundamentalism

In Recovering the Reformed Confession, Scott Clark discusses what he calls the Quest for Illegitimate Certainty (QIRC).  He asserts that QIRC is a variant of fundamentalism.  Often identified among the characteristics of fundamentalism is a belief in biblical inerrancy.  However, Clark goes on to note that fundamentalism’s maintenance of this position is not a problem for Reformed confessors:

Fundamentalists have held and practiced these [characteristics, including inerrancy], but holding and practicing them does not necessarily make one a fundamentalist.  For example, something like the inerrancy of Scripture was held as an article of faith by the patristic, medieval, Reformation, and post-Reformation church.  Given that it was not until the Enlightenment that the truthfulness and reliability of Scripture became a crisis, it is remarkable how often premodern theologians affirmed the trustworthiness of Scripture.  The Reformed doctrine of Scripture has developed in the last two centuries in order to respond to the modernist critics, but the doctrine of the Trinity underwent the same sort of development in response to the Arian critics in the fourth century.  In fact, it is not a belief that the Bible is true which makes one a fundamentalist; rather it is the belief that one’s interpretation of Scripture is inerrant which qualifies one as a fundamentalist.  In the same way, it is hardly self-evident that calling sinners to faith in Christ is fundamentalist unless the only alternative to modern universalism is fundamentalism.

R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession, 45.

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

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