a very brief background of protestant and lcms teaching of inerrancy

Inerrancy first became a key and indispensible word for Protestantism in @1910. The following three books are histories of Fundamentalism written by Fundamentalist authors:

·        Cole, Stewart G. The History of Fundamentalism. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008. ISBN 9781606081020.

·        Furniss, Norman F. The Fundamentalist Controversy, 1918-1931. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954.

·        Packer, J. I. “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God: Some Evangelical Principles. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1958. ISBN 0-8028-1147-7.


As you seek to understand what “inerrancy” means among Fundamentalists, beware: be sure to note H. Wayne House’s Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992. ISBN 0310416612), where, on p. 24, you will see the headline: “Evangelical Theories on Inerrancy.” This chart lists four categories of “Complete Inerrancy,” “Limited Inerrancy,” “Inerrancy of Purpose,” and “Irrelevancy of Inerrancy.” What does this mean? Even among Evangelicals, there is no agreed upon understanding of inerrancy! For an image of this chart, click here.


In 1966, LCMS pastor Dr. Milton L. Rudnick authored the book Fundamentalism and the Missouri Synod: A Historical Study of their Interaction and Mutual Influence (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House). You can find much helpful information in Rudnick’s book; however, I would disagree with one of the last paragraphs of his book, on p. 112: “Whether or not the Synod’s devotion to Biblical inerrancy was a healthy development; whether or not this doctrine is consistent with Luther, the Confessions, and the Scriptures themselves—these and similar questions lie beyond the scope of this study. The concern here is simply to disavow the inference, not infrequently drawn, that the views of the Missouri Synod on this doctrine were significantly shaped by Fundamentalism.”


On p. xi Rudnick admits: “The conclusions of this study [in his book] are my own and differ significantly from his in certain respects.” Rudnick was referring to Dr. Carl S. Meyer, his mentor for the book and director of graduate studies and professor of historical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, at that time.


If you wish to pursue this issue further, especially the use of inerrancy in the LCMS, see Frederick Danker’s 370-page book No Room in the Brotherhood: The Preus-Otten Purge of Missouri (St. Louis: Clayton Publishing House, 1977. ISBN 091564410X). Danker was one of those who championed the cause of Seminex. He claimed that inerrancy was one of the causes, if not the primary culprit in this struggle.


If you want your head to really spin, consider this: The writings of Herman Sasse are considered by many in the LCMS to be almost equal to Luther and the Confessions. However, Sasse’s writings on Scripture and inerrancy are so volatile that, when his works are collected, these writings are mysteriously left out. To see the bizarre oddyssey of how Sasse has been handled regarding Scripture and inerrancy, see the book Scripture and the Church: Selected Essays of Herman Sasse (ed. by Jeffery J. Kloha and Ronald R. Feuerhahn. St. Louis: Concordia Seminary, 1995. ISBN 0911770631). This 455-page hardcover, part of the Concordia Seminary Monograph Series, was a special project by now-801 Prof. Kloha, done under 801 Prof. Feuerhahn when Kloha was a student at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. One of the most volatile sections of Sasse’s writings occurred in still another book, Accents in Luther’s Theology (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1967). Editor Heino Kadai had extensive communication with Hermann Sasse and was also my adviser when I attended the seminary. For a sample of some of Sasse’s volatile writing on inerrancy, click here.


When it comes to inerrancy, especially among Fundamentalists and most Protestants, there are as many flavors of the meaning of “inerrancy” as Baskin-Robbins ice cream. As you do your reading, always have beside you p. 24 of Wayne House’s Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine, which illustrates the various theories of inerrancy.


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