I characterized PG Inerrancy in this way:
(i) We mean [by PG Inerrancy] that the Bible tells us all that we need to know about how to reconcile ourselves to God. (ii) We also mean that, in its primary purpose, the purpose of reconciliation, the Bible will never lead us astray. It will, if followed, always help us along on the path to reconciliation. (iii) Finally, we mean that the Bible's plan of reconciliation is optimal. There could be no better.Before I presented this as a mere hypothesis. Now I think that I must embrace it.
There is much in the Old Testament, and a little in the New, that I find morally abhorrent. In the Old, we are told that disrespectful children should be stoned. In the new, we are told that women should not speak in church. (I do not think that the two are equally abhorrent. The former is much worse than the latter.) What is the Christian to do? There seem to be two possibilities. He might so transform his moral view that it becomes permissible to stone a child, or he might reject the bit of Scripture where a parent is told to stone a disrespectful child. Let us say that we do that latter. This worry will now inevitably arise: if Scripture makes such a serious moral error as this, how do we know that it isn't rife with error, moral and otherwise?
In answer, we must find a foundation for our faith - a foundation outside simple trust in Scripture - that would allow us to distinguish those parts of Scripture that are authoritative from those that are not. But where is this foundation? Where are we to begin if we attempt to build up our faith from what is most certain?
My answer is this:
The foundation of our Faith is not the Bible alone. Instead the foundation of Christianity lies in God and His salvific work in the world, and though this includes Scripture, it is greater than Scripture. The book that we call the Bible is simply the record - the human record - of that work. It is a guide to our salvation, to be sure; and it is authoritative at points. But one doesn't simply surrender to whatever it says; rather what is says must be tested, sifted. The tradition of Christian reflection - a Spirit guided affair the Christian must say - is in part the history of this; and its conclusions must be accepted by the Christian. The primary conclusion of this tradition of reflection - and this is surely the primary message of the New Testament - is that Christianity is a religion of love, of God's love for humanity, our love for him, and our love for one another. Scripture must be read through that lens, and when one does, one has no choice but to reject certain things.This is my exegetical principle. The Bible is a work whose primary purpose is to aid humanity's salvation (and it is, of course, not the only aid - the Spirit is at work in many ways in the world); and that salvation consists in the perfection of love of God and neighbor. So then I think it necessary to embrace PG Inerrancy. We cannot do more, for Scripture contains moral absurdity (absurdity that does not bear ultimately upon what it has to teach us of the way of salvation). But neither can we do less, for if the Bible we not a sure guide to salvation the Christian would have no use for it at all.
I find that, if I keep this exegetical principle firmly in mind, much that once worried me about Scripture worries me no more. If one were to read the Genesis creation stories in accordance with this principle, for instance, one would ask this: what is this story is essential for us to believe if we are to be brought to the perfection of love? It seems clear to me - indeed patently obvious - that belief in a six-day creation is inessential. But it seems equally obvious that we must believe that the world is has it source in God and God alone. To love God as we ought, we must believe that are from him and him alone. But to love God as we ought, we need not believe that the world was created in six days.
Apply this now to the command to stone a disrespectful child. Must we believe this if we are to be perfected? Or course not. Or must we believe that it is right for women to keep silent in church. Again, of course not.
Is there any Scriptural basis for the view I put forward? I think that there is. Most relevant is 2 Timothy 3:16-17: ""All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be equipped, prepared for every good work." I do realize of course that the passage speaks of all Scripture; that does seem to count against my view. But notice what the stated purpose of Scripture is here: to teach and to correct. It is then pedagogy of a practical sort. It is written so that we might know better how to live. This is precisely the view I have adopted. Indeed one might say that this passage from Timothy tells us that genuine Scripture must have this pedagogical purpose, and that the parts which plainly do not are not to be thought authoritative. I'm out on a hermeneutic limb I know, but what I say does seem to keep with the spirit of the passage.