Concordism: The view of biblical inerrancy that no truth-claim in the bible is incorrect, every word is inspired (in one way or another) by the Holy Spirit to be without error, and to communicate a particular (accurate) point, or multiple (accurate) points.
Non-Concordist Inerrancy: The view that the bible is only correct with regard to theological matters, and the Holy Spirit wasn't concerned with getting the science and history right in the bible (or in some cases, even the morality). So, the bible is only correct on those points, but says wrong things about science all the time.
I felt the need to write this article because I have seen a disturbing rise in Non-concordist positions of late. I believe this is a response to intellectual laziness and can potentially cause major issues for the church.
The Bible Isn't A Science Textbook:
While this is true, the Bible was not given by God to teach us science. The Bible does describe the natural world (God's creation) and gives us many narratives about creation and history.
I think the Holy Spirit is fully capable of ensuring the total accuracy of the bible, and still allowing ancient (and modern) people to understand it.
I believe the accuracy of the Bible on certain topics is a great way to preach the gospel to modern people, by demonstrating its reliability.
The Audience It Was Written To Wouldn't understand it:
I think this claim is a mixture of misconceptions and pure silliness. Let me explain.
Concordism does not require that the Bible include information about *every* topic, like quantum mechanics, DNA, or trilobites. It just means that what the bible does say is correct. To my knowledge, no typical concordist claim would be incomprehensible or even worldview-shattering to the ancient person.
For instance, Genesis 1 gives the order of creation, but doesn't say exactly *how* this creation was accomplished.
Could an ancient person not understand that plants were created before animals? Could an ancient person not understand that there was a time when God lifted up the mountains and sank the valleys (Psalm 104).
They may not know how God created the plants and animals, or how much time passed between those events. They may not know what processes moved the mountains up and sank the valleys down (plate tectonics) but nothing in the text is beyond comprehension. But yet, it's still accurate.
If any non-concordist brings up something in the Bible that concordists interpret that an ancient person simply could not understand, feel free to contact me.
I don't really see how concordism really makes the text prefer modern audiences over ancient audiences, it just means the bible is right. It's really that simple. Our modern science only uncovers extra details. It doesn't mean we understand the bible more. Everything in the Bible is correct to both ancient and modern audiences.
Concordism Means Believing In Absurd Science:
Many non-concordists believe that the Bible teaches (or at least "describes") unscientific and blatantly incorrect things such as:
A flat earth
A solid/domed sky
A 6000-year old earth
That the entirety of a human child comes from the father
That the spiritual realms are literally above and below the Earth we live on
That the seat of the mind is the heart and guts of a person
Personally, I think these individuals are simply going for an intellectual cop-out. Rather than looking into the passages that allegedly make these claims and disproving the interpretation, they simply agree with the skeptic and say "Yeah, the bible says that, but inerrancy only applies to theology, so it's okay!".
It would take a whole book to thoroughly debunk all 8 of the claims I listed (let alone all the ones I haven't) but I will give the link to a couple articles by Rich Deem addressing some of the more popular complaints:
Does the bible contradict scientific principles?
The Bible Teaches That the Heavens Were a Solid Dome, Embedded with Stars?
False Teachings and Contradictions in the Bible?
Questions For Non-Concordist Christians:
1. Why can’t Genesis 1 be a poetically written historical account of the creation of the world?
2. Why can’t the bible be both figurative and literal?
3. Why does it have to be textbook-literal or complete poetry, with nothing to say about reality?
4. Why can’t it teach both real facts about the natural world AND theology? (those categories are both man-made concepts by the way)
5. Why does every book of the Bible have to have a singular point to communicate? Can't Genesis 1 be both a polemic against other near-eastern theologies *and* be an accurate historical account of the creation of the world we live in?
The Dangers Of Non-Concordist Positions:
1. It corrupts the traditional doctrine of inerrancy and confusing unbelievers who could potentially come to faith in Christ.
2. It underestimates the power of the Holy Spirit to ensure the Bible is without error.
3. It lowers the importance of certain chapters of the Bible. Genesis 1, for example, is reduced to a mere polemic against other ancient near-eastern theologies, hardly fitting for the beginning of a book meant to communicate to *all* generations.
4. Most importantly (in my opinion), it cripples scientific apologetics. One of my (many) reasons for coming to faith was the historical/scientific accuracy of certain passages in the bible, such as Genesis 2, Psalm 104, and many chapters in Job.
Many ministries (such as Reasons To Believe) rely heavily on scientific apologetics to preach the gospel. To take the easy way out and reject Concordism, you damage many methods of evangelizing in our modern world.
I really do not think non-concordist positions on the bible are legitimate. I think it downgrades the doctrine of inerrancy, and grossly underestimates the Holy Spirit’s power to ensure there are no inaccuracies (period) in the bible.
Thanks for reading!