The Theology of a Mere Christian: Inerrancy

The Theology of a Mere Christian: Inerrancy

Not only does Lewis’s view of inspiration fall short of biblical teaching but it also leads him to believe that the Scriptures contain “naivety, error, contradiction, and wickedness.”[1]  Since Lewis believes that the Scriptures are just men’s writings that are taken up to be God’s Word, he concludes that they therefore must contain some error.[2]  Of course, this is easily refuted by asking the question, “By what standard?” By what standard do the Scriptures contain error?  Lewis does not offer a compelling argument for his beliefs and I believe that this is where we begin to bump into C.S. Lewis as a Rationalist.

Just like Adam and Eve in the garden, Lewis was guilty of deciding what is good and true by his own reason instead of submitting to God’s instruction (Gen. 3:1-6).  It is always tempting to think of ways to explain the Word of God but Christians must always remember that it is the Word of God that explains us.  We do not have the freedom, the authority, or the rational capacity to stand above the Scriptures; it is the Scriptures that stand above us.  The Bible is the Christian’s standard of standards, it is our ultimate authority, and anything less than that is sinful and dangerous.

This is obviously true but many have accused this position of circular reasoning.  Circular reasoning is a fallacy[3] that assumes the truth of a conclusion in the premise of an argument.  We do not want to commit fallacies because we are called to walk in the truth, so how can avoid circular reasoning while honoring the Bible as our highest authority?  We must first distinguish between viciously and virtuously circular arguments.  A viciously circular argument would be saying that the Bible is true because the Bible is true.  One does not have to be well versed in logic to discern that something is wrong with that argument.  Virtuously circular arguments, on the other hand, are arguments that are consistent and coherent with one’s ultimate standard of truth.

In light of this distinction, I would posit that no one can argue for anything apart from that which their own ultimate standard dictates as true.  For instance, the only way to prove that science and empiricism is the standard of truth is by appealing to science and empiricism as proof.  Similarly, the only way to prove reason is the arbiter of truth is appealing to reason.  Furthermore, if you try to explain your ultimate standard by appealing to something else then you have abandoned your standard for one more ultimate and this will only continue ad infinitum.

This is why apologetics is not so much about pointing to science or reason as it is about comparing the consistency and coherence of the ultimate standards by which people make decisions.  For the Christian, the ultimate standard for faith and life is God and His Word, and there is no authority over God or His Word because He is the Great I AM.  Since this is true, then Lewis cannot, as a Christian, coherently say that the Bible contains errors when the Bible teaches that it is the inerrant Word of God (Pr. 30:5).

Yet Lewis believes that the Bible does contain errors and he does so by appealing to a standard that is more ultimate than the Scriptures: his own reason.  Lewis believes this in spite of his Christian beliefs and his view is honestly absurd since his finite reasoning is a mere bread crumb compared to the infinite wisdom, knowledge, and reasoning of our God (Isa. 55:8-9).

[1] Lewis, C. S. Reflections on the Psalms. 1st edition. (New York: Mariner Books, 1964), 111.

[2] Lewis, Reflections, 116.

[3] A fallacy is a deformed way of thinking.