The Debate Over Inerrancy: Comparing B.B. Warfield and Harold Lindsell – Part 6: The Battles – Similarities

If you are an Evangelical Christian (or you know any) then you know how divisive the debate over the inerrancy of scripture can be. However you might not know that every generation this battle comes up over and over again. In this blog series we will be taking a look at to iterations of this debate, then we will be comparing them. Hopefully there is something to learn from the past…..

In this post we will look at some of the similarities between Warfield and Lindsell in their respective “battles” waged over the inerrancy of scripture.


The Battle: Warfield and Lindsell Compared – Similarities

            There are various similarities between these two men. These similarities can be categorized into similarities of belief and similarities of historical context. Both authors believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God. They also hold a plenary view of inspiration, that is, the whole Bible is inspired by God. Lindsell says that “The Bible in all of its parts constitutes the written Word of God to man. This word is free from all error in its original autographs…It is wholly trustworthy in matters of history and doctrine…the authors of Scripture, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, were preserved from making factual, historical, scientific or other errors.”[1] Warfield also holds to an inerrant verbal plenary view of inspiration, he believes that all of “Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine inspiration.”[2] Like Lindsell he also admits that there seems to be errors in the Bible, however he distinguishes between difficulties and proven errors.[3] In Warfield’s opinion no one has made a presentation for indisputable errors, thus all “errors” remain mere difficulties.

In addition to shared beliefs, Warfield and Lindsell share some similarities in their historical contexts. For instance both men were expounding their positions in a polemical context. Warfield was presenting his views on inspiration in relation to Brigg’s works in the Presbyterian Review. Lindsell wrote “The Battle for the Bible” after the controversies at Fuller Seminary. Thus both men were not writing about inspiration merely for the sake of presenting their views; they had opponents which they were arguing against. Another similarity is that the Warfield’s and Lindsell’s opponents were influenced by European Biblical scholarship. Briggs had studied in Germany but so had Warfield. In addition, many of the others who Warfield was writing against in articles like “The Real Problem of Inspiration” were advocating for forms of higher criticism that had sprung up in Europe. Lindsell was also writing against those who had been influenced by European scholarship. One of the major episodes of Lindsell’s fight for inerrancy occurred over the hiring of Bela Vassady, a Hungarian scholar who had been influenced by Karl Barth. Another episode is his fight for inerrancy due to Daniel Fuller’s role on Black Saturday. Fuller had studied in Basel and had moved away from inerrancy in the years he spent studying in Europe.

[1] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 30-31.

[2] B.B. Warfield, “The Biblical Idea of Inspiration,” In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, ed. Samuel G. Craig, (Philadelphia: P&R Publishing, 1948.), 133.

[3] B.B. Warfield, “The Real Problem of Inspiration,” In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, ed. Samuel G. Craig, (Philadelphia: P&R Publishing, 1948.), 225.



Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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