Though the Bible presents a personal and relational God, popular modern worldviews portray an impersonal divine force in a purely material world. Readers influenced by this competing worldview hold assumptions about fundamental issues—like the nature of humanity, evil, and the purpose of life—that present profound obstacles to understanding the Bible.
In Inerrancy and Worldview, Dr. Vern Poythress offers the first worldview-based defense of scriptural inerrancy, showing how worldview differences create or aggravate most perceived difficulties with the Bible. His positive case for biblical inerrancy implicitly critiques the worldview of theologians like Enns, Sparks, Allert, and McGowan. Poythress, who has researched and published in a variety of fields— including science, linguistics, and sociology—deals skillfully with the challenges presented in each of these disciplines. By directly addressing key examples in each field, Poythress shows that many difficulties can be resolved simply by exposing the influence of modern materialism.
Inerrancy and Worldview’s positive response to current attempts to abandon or redefine inerrancy will enable Christians to respond well to modern challenges by employing a worldview that allows the Bible to speak on its own terms.
“I can think of no one in the world better qualified to write a defense of biblical inerrancy than my lifelong friend Vern Poythress. This book is no ordinary defense of inerrancy that merely focuses on proposed solutions to several difficult verses (though it does examine some of them). Rather, it is a wide-ranging analysis that exposes the faulty intellectual assumptions that underlie challenges to the Bible from every major academic discipline in the modern university world. I think every Christian student at every secular university should read and absorb the arguments in this book. It is profoundly wise, insightful, and clearly written, and it will surely strengthen every reader’s confidence in the trustworthiness of the Bible as the very words of God.”
—Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary
“Vern Poythress has written what I consider to be definitive books on many subjects, including biblical interpretation, language, science, and sociology. In Inerrancy and Worldview, he brings his insights from these disciplines and more together to address the relation of biblical inerrancy to worldview. He shows quite convincingly that the issue of inerrancy is not just a matter of asking whether this or that biblical passage is factual. Rather, our attitude toward the claim of biblical inerrancy depends on our general view of how God is related to the cosmos and to us as individuals and societies. And that general view, in turn, depends on our relationship to Jesus Christ. The book gets deeper into the question of inerrancy than any other book I know.”
—John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
“Every new item that Vern Poythress writes is thoughtful, creative, and worth reading. This book is no exception. Among the many things I like about it is his emphasis on the personalist worldview of the Bible, as over against the impersonalism that dominates modern Western culture. Besides its crucial contribution to his own subject in clarifying how it is that God communicates to us through the Bible, I think this basic idea will be fruitful for a good number of other topics as well. Thanks, Dr. Poythress, and thanks, God, for giving him to the Church.”
—C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary; author, The God of Miracles, Science, and Faith: Friends or Foes?
“Vern Poythress has provided both the church and the academy a remarkable service with Inerrancy and Worldview. Recognizing that the modern objection to Scripture is neither univocal nor objective, but rather varied and religious, he helpfully reframes the discussion in terms of competing worldviews. By surveying the various options for the allegiance of the modern mind, Poythress shows that not only is an inerrant Bible a reasonable expectation of a personal God, but our rejection of it is rooted not in evidence, but in our sinful rebellion against that God. With clear logic and pastoral care, Poythress leads us through an amazing tour of both the ‘wisdom of our age’ and the follies of our hearts, bringing us at last to the God who speaks—humbling our pride and setting our hearts free.”
—Michael Lawrence, Senior Pastor, Hinson Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon; author, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church
“To our shame, the response of Christians to challenges to our faith can often be dismissive, shallow, defensive, or disrespectful. On the other hand, we can err too much on the side of tolerance for error when truth is under siege. In Inerrancy and Worldview, Vern Poythress shows us how to be neither fools nor cowards. Through intelligent, informed, insightful, and respectful engagement, key foundational faith defeaters taught in many disciplines at every secular university are explained and critiqued from a biblical perspective. Poythress challenges the challenges to biblical belief at the root of their assumptions. We are left with a solid basis and defense of the Christian way of thinking. Inerrancy and Worldview should be required reading for all who want to think more deeply about their faith and defend it within a skeptical culture.”
—Erik Thoennes, Professor of Theology, Chair, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; Pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada, California
Part 1: Two Common Religious Difficulties
1. How Can Only One Religion Be Right?
2. Are Moral Rules a Straitjacket?
Part 2: Challenges from Science and Materialism
3. Worldviews and Materialism
4. Modern Science
Part 3: Challenges From History
5. The Historical-Critical Tradition
6. Responding to Historical Criticism
7. The Change from History to Structure
Part 4: Challenges about Language
8. Challenges from Linguistics and Philosophy of Language
9. Words and Meanings concerning Many “Gods”
10. Growth in Understanding
11. Contexts for Language
12. The Idea of Closed Language
13. Breaking Out of Closure in Language
14. Analysis of Biblical Narratives
Part 5: Challenges from Sociology and Anthropology
15. Challenges from Sociology
16. The Idea of Closure of Culture
17. Breaking Out of Closure in Culture
18. Marxism and Feminism