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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Fall Edition 2000

Biblical Inerrancy And The Debacle Of A Midguided Fundamentalism

    Dispensationalism claims to have a very close relationship to biblical fundamentalism, so close in fact, that the acceptance of its tenants is deemed by millions to equal this position. Not to believe the truth claims of nineteenth century Plymouth Brethren Darbyism respecting end-time Bible prophecy, so the prejudice in these circles deeply runs, means that one does not, that one cannot, possibly believe the Bible.

    Fortunately this mentality is breaking down in much of the contemporary Wesleyan Holiness movement today. To be realistic about it, moreover, Darbyism has never been totally entrenched within our movement in the first place.
We have found the conservative Holiness people to be more "open-minded" toward these issues than the broader "fundamentalist" movement in America, which is dominated by Calvinistic, or neo-Calvinistic, ideology, generally is. Thankfully, many of the thoughtful within the Wesleyan Holiness movement in more recent years--even where Darbyism has been widely entrenched--are beginning now to look more closely at the concept of "fundamentalism" in the context of historic Wesleyan Methodism. This, in itself, is a very good portend of much better things to come.

Some in the younger generation are leading the way in the revitalization of the Holiness movement, which had become stale and encrusted under the polarizing effects of the dispensationally-tainted ministries of to much of the "old guard"--who have "fumbled the ball," as it were, on historic Wesleyan Methodism. We thank the Lord for all of that--not the old guard's fumbling of the ball, but for the younger generation's interest in the theological renewal of the modern Holiness movement.

    Friends, we have said in this paper repeatedly that popular dispensational premillennial end-time Bible prophecy teaching represents the epitome of the fundamentalism of hyper-Calvinism: it has nothing to do with the concept of fundamentalism understood by primitive Methodism, or a sound accurate interpretation of the salvation history doctrine of the Holy Bible.

    Now we can carry the issue of dispensational misinterpretation of Scripture even further into the question of inerrancy, for what good does an inerrant Bible do, if it is grossly misinterpreted? The question of inerrancy, we contend, was not so big a deal to primitive Methodism as was an honest and accurate interpretation of the Bible that the church possessed.

    Friends, is it not far more important, on every practical count, to accurately interpret the Bible that we have, than to argue over the theoretical question of inerrancy, for again, what does an inerrant Bible matter among those who grossly distort and misinterpreted it, as is done in the case of those Calvinist fundamentalists, the dispensational premillennialists?

    Of course the Bible is inerrant: that is not the issue. The issue is that Calvinistic fundamentalism is one thing, while Wesleyan Arminian fundamentalism is altogether another matter. When the Holiness movement relearns this distinction once again she will be well on the road to much needed renewal and reform.

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