I was reading the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy today. Couple of quotes I thought I would reflect upon:
[…]history must be treated as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and metaphor as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as what they are, and so forth.
Yes, the sticking point, though, is in which parts of the Bible are considered to be history, metaphor, etc.
Differences between literary conventions in Bible times and in ours must also be observed: since, for instance, non-chronological narration and imprecise citation were conventional and acceptable and violated no expectations in those days, we must not regard these things as faults when we find them in Bible writers. When total precision of a particular kind was not expected nor aimed at, it is no error not to have achieved it.
Indeed, it is helpful to point out how ancient writers’ understanding of the role and nature of their work differs from modern literary assumptions. The one area this document does not address is how the ancient writers’ culture viewed the nature and composition of history itself.
Scripture is inerrant, not in the sense of being absolutely precise by modern standards, but in the sense of making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed.
In this statement the entire doctument becomes relative to future insights concerning what might be “measured focus of truth” at which a particular author of a particular passage aimed. I am thinking particularly of stories such as the Creation, the Flood, and Jonah.
In short, it would be helpful to Christian unity to realize that the principles on which the conservative Evangelical camp bases its position on inerrency, does not necessarily exclude opposing positions. As the Rabbi says: “As long as the Book is open, all questions are permitted.”