Ever since its founding the Evangelical Theological Society has required a core confession of its members: the inerrancy of scripture in the autographs. Then they discovered (in the early 80s as I recall) that non-trinitarian oneness people had infiltrated their ranks. It would seem that confession of inerrancy does not ensure that one will come out a Trinitarian. (But hey, a Jehovah’s Witness coulda told ya that.) So a confession of trinitarianism was hastily appended to the statement. Here then is the statement that members have to agree to:
“The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.”
This brings me back to 2002 and my first year at ETS. The site was Colorado Springs. I drove down, slept in my station wagon (I wish I could tell you it was something cool like a 57′ Chevy Nomad, but alas, it was a 93′ Taurus), and attended the conference during the day. I remember the fierce plenary sessions that year where the theology in the hot seat was open theism. Bruce Ware led the charge to get the openness people out of the society because somehow they were able to affirm inerrancy and trinitarianism and yet also affirm that God didn’t know the future. What good was inerrancy if it couldn’t be used to keep the likes of Clark Pinnock and John Sanders out of the ETS?
But the event I remember most clearly about that year was the first paper I attended. It was one of those room-changes-at-the-last-minute things and so I ended up listening to a paper on a topic in which I had no interest. At least initially. Apparently there were a number of other people who likewise found themselves trapped, realizing it wasn’t the speaker or topic of their interest, but too embarrassed for the poor fellow to get up and walk out. But it didn’t take long for us to decide to stay, amazed and shocked at the spectacle. The fellow was delivering a paper on holocaust revisionism which, to my tender young ears, sounded rather anti-semitic. I remember one detail in his argument: the showers weren’t used to gas people after all.
Gosh darn it. I wish I’d had Michael Shermer and Raul Hilberg sitting beside me, the latter to go carefully through the details of a case that sounded most dubious and the former to demonstrate how an ideologue manipulates facts in a vain attempt to win an audience.
Anyway, there you go. Inerrancy in the autographs has failed to keep anti-trinitarians, open theists and even anti-semitic holocaust deniers out of the ETS.
(Note to reader: I haven’t encountered another anti-semite at the ETS, though I did encounter one Jewish fellow who called Jesus his rabbi and seemed to have a very deep antipathy to Arabs.)