Moody Professors Protest: Will Sign Chicago Statement but it “Means Nothing to Me”

Several Bible and theology professors at the Moody Bible Institute (MBI) are openly protesting the board’s decision about a month ago to adopt the Short Statement of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and to require all faculty to sign it. The professors, who all served on an ad-hoc committee on inerrancy, voiced their opposition in four documents recently sent to the entire MBI faculty via the administrative assistant of Associate Provost Larry Davidhizar.

The professors are upset because they believe the Moody Doctrinal Statement is sufficient and that the board’s new requirement confirms allegations that some faculty do not affirm biblical inerrancy. “If (trustees) make us sign (the Chicago Statement), we are concerned that it will communicate to the faculty and the public that you believe there is a problem,” wrote Bible/Theology Division Chairman Steven Sanchez.  

“The (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy) means nothing to me.  I will sign it, and each time I do my signature will remind me of the wrong done and reopen the wound it inflicted.”

Similarly, Theology Professor Michael McDuffee complained that the trustees listened to allegations of theological drift brought by “certain faculty members – number unknown” and the advice of “outside power brokers” (identified in a separate document as President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Albert Mohler, Pastor Emeritus of The Moody Church Erwin Lutzer, and former MBI Provost Charlie Dyer). Instead, McDuffee said the board should have listened to the faculty inerrancy committee, which concluded that all members of the Bible/Theology Division sufficiently affirm inerrancy.

“(MBI trustees) have treated us as if we are at risk at picking up specious positions on inerrancy,” McDuffee wrote, “requiring an anonymous type internal affairs squad to keep a watchful eye on us, so that with an early enough warning they can reel us in and keep us from theological drift away from orthodoxy.” Though McDuffee said he subscribes to the summary statements and 19 articles of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, he added, “The CSBI (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy) means nothing to me.  I will sign it, and each time I do my signature will remind me of the wrong done and reopen the wound it inflicted.”*

Does MBI Have an Inerrancy Problem?

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is a document created at an international summit of evangelical leaders in 1978 to defend biblical inerrancy against liberal trends within evangelicalism. It was signed by nearly 300 evangelical scholars and affirmed that the Bible is without “error or fault in all its teaching.”

The board adopted the Chicago Statement after I reported a controversy over inerrancy stemming from a Bible/Theology Division meeting last year. In that meeting, two MBI professors allegedly professed a postmodern view of truth that Theology Professor Rich Weber claimed was incompatible with “the conservative evangelical definition expressed in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.”

According to Weber, Drs. David Rim and Ashish Varma said they reject what’s known as a “correspondence view of truth” – the basic notion that truth corresponds with reality. They also reportedly said they reject the Chicago Statement’s view of inerrancy, which Weber said he had always understood to be the view affirmed in all MBI theology classes.

In the recent documents from some inerrancy committee members, no one outright denies that Rim and Varma made these statements, though Theology Professor Gregg Quiggle wrote, “Varma made a comment that raised concerns among some in the room. The exact nature and content of that comment are debated.”

McDuffee also accused me of waging a “smear campaign” against the two professors and chastised me for failing to ask Dr. Rim the “concise and unambiguous question” – “Do you affirm inerrancy as defined by the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy?” – thus clearing up any confusion about his stance.

“Varma now has ‘indicated he can and will sign the mandated Chicago Statement.’ Similarly, those who have talked to Rim . . . have concluded that ‘he could sign the mandated portions of the statement.'”

However, in an email to Rim on January 5, I wrote, “Is it true you do not affirm inerrancy as described in the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy?”  Rim responded that he affirms the Moody Doctrinal Statement, to which I replied: “You didn’t answer my question, though. Do you affirm inerrancy as described by the Chicago Statement?” Rim never responded to my follow-up question, and Varma has not responded to any of my emails seeking clarification.

According to the recent documents, however, Varma now has “indicated he can and will sign the mandated Chicago Statement.” Similarly, those who have talked to Rim (presumably professors and/or administrators) have concluded that “he could sign the mandated portions of the statement.”

The documents do not explain what caused this apparent about-face by both professors. However, they do make two remarkable assertions. One, they argue that a correspondence view of truth is not necessary to affirm inerrancy. A mere “pre-theoretical claim about language and ‘correspondence,’” will do.  And two, they assert that adhering to a correspondence view is not required to sign the Chicago Statement, essentially rendering the board’s new requirement ineffectual.

Is a “correspondence view” necessary for inerrancy?

According to leading evangelical apologist, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, a correspondence view “simply means that what one says fits the reality of the world.” So, if the Bible describes a historical event or detail, those who adhere to a correspondence view believe the event or detail is real.

However, some who reject a correspondence view, like evangelical scholar Peter Enns, deny the historicity of some biblical narratives. Enns argues that one could affirm a certain “truth” expressed in the story of the collapse of Jericho’s wall, for example, while simultaneously denying the “real” existence of a wall.

Similarly, postmodern scholar Myron Penner argues that no human statements, even those in Scripture, are absolutely true because they’re expressed in human language, which is inherently flawed. During the division meeting, Varma presented an article by Penner, and according to Weber, both Varma and Rim affirmed Penner’s view.  It’s not surprising, then, that some professors expressed concern about their colleagues’ view.

Yet McDuffee argues in his paper that though Rim and Varma reject a “philosophical correspondence view or theory of truth,” they still qualify as biblical inerrantists because they embrace the “common usage” of correspondence reportedly espoused by Kevin Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

McDuffee writes that Varma told him, “We generally affirm a pre-theoretical claim about language and ‘correspondence,’ about truth and its relationship to reality by the commonplace and everyday meaning of these words without affirming a correspondence theory of truth.”

“The only people who are bothered by correspondence theory are either philosophical existentialists or they are liberal theologians, or both.”

However, Dr. Montgomery challenged the notion that one could have a valid “pre-theoretical intuition” about correspondence without also affirming a philosophical correspondence theory. In a phone conversation, he told me, “If it’s a sound intuition, then it can be expressed in propositional form. And the minute that you do this, you’re expressing a correspondence theory.”

He added, “The only people who are bothered by correspondence theory are either philosophical existentialists or they are liberal theologians, or both. . . . (Rejecting a correspondence view) doesn’t sound like heresy yet, but that’s exactly the kind of thing that opens the door to heresy because once you have said that you deny the correspondence theory of truth, how under the sun can you claim that the Bible is objectively true, to say nothing of its being inerrant?”

I emailed Dr. Vanhoozer and he confirmed that he embraces a “pre-theoretical intuition (definition) of truth as correspondence.” He added, however, that he also embraces a “chastened or modest correspondence theory.” “If I have a hesitation (about correspondence theory), it’s not about the nature of truth,” he said. “It’s not about whether or not some of our language corresponds to reality. Of course, it does.”

What’s required to sign Chicago Statement?

The documents authored by Sanchez, Quiggle, and McDuffee all assert that signing the Chicago Statement does not require adherence to a correspondence view either. McDuffee bases this view on the fact that the Chicago Statement “does not include any mention of a correspondence view of truth.” In addition, he notes that commentaries written by some of the creators of the Chicago Statement, asserting that correspondence view is required, were written years after the statement was initially signed. Therefore, they may not have represented the consensus view.

However, one of the original signers of the Chicago Statement, former Moody Professor of Bible and Theology William Luck, said he knew more than 100 of the signers personally and believes every one of them would have affirmed a correspondence view. He added that “it should be assumed that the signers do concur unless they state otherwise, since the same people produced the (Chicago Statement) that produced the commentaries.”

““(I)t should be assumed that the signers do concur unless they state otherwise, since the same people produced the (Chicago Statement) that produced the commentaries.”

Luck also said that those who signed the Chicago Statement attended meetings on the statement prior to signing, and “weren’t simply asked to sign the short statement without understanding what it meant.” Luck added that he couldn’t recall any signers who made any “post-signature statements against the (Chicago Statement) or the commentaries . . . having second thoughts or writing ‘how my mind has changed.’”

Montgomery, who also was an original signer of the Chicago Statement, agreed with Luck’s assessment and called McDuffee’s argument that the Chicago Statement doesn’t necessarily affirm correspondence view because it isn’t explicitly mentioned “nonsense.”

“Let’s say we have a doctrinal statement that talks about the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, but doesn’t use the word ‘Trinity.’ Does that mean that the people who signed that hypothetical statement were not saying anything about the Trinity? Of course they were because everything that’s said about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit requires exactly the same picture of God.”

Likewise, Montgomery said those who signed the statement were affirming correspondence view, even though many of them may not have been familiar with the term.  “The assumption in signing the statement is that you can compare what people present theologically with what the Bible says and say it either corresponds or it doesn’t.”

Owen Strachan, director of the Center for Public Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, agreed. “If you affirm inerrancy, you cannot deny correspondence theory in any form – historically, philosophically, theologically, emotionally, perspectivally, or mystically,” he said. “You either agree with God that biblical history is actual history, or you deny it. . . . Like the (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy) and (Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics) make clear as crystal, either the Bible presents historical truth in its historical sections or it does not. We cannot separate the Bible of history from the Scripture of faith.”

Trustees Must Clarify

Soon after Moody adopted the Short Statement of the Chicago Statement, I interviewed Dr. Norm Geisler, an original framer of the Chicago Statement. He said he was happy with the board’s action, but feared that by adopting the short statement, as opposed to the full Chicago Statement, the board left some wiggle room for those who want to deny correspondence view.

“I can tell you from experience . . . that’s what they do. They try to talk around (the issue) and say it didn’t explicitly say ‘correspondence view of truth.’”  He added, “It’s a crucial issue and I know why they don’t want to accept a correspondence view of truth – because they want to believe the Bible can have errors, factual errors, and still be inerrant. . . . But to do that, they have to forsake the historic view and the view that was intended by the founders and framers (of the Chicago Statement).”

“I know why they don’t want to accept a correspondence view of truth – because they want to believe the Bible can have errors, factual errors, and still be inerrant.”

I can’t speak to the professors’ motives, nor can I, given such limited information know for sure what Rim and Varma mean by their denial of correspondence view. But clearly, the Chicago Statement was created, clarified, and re-clarified repeatedly to prevent professors from doing precisely what the MBI inerrancy committee is doing.

Signing the Chicago Statement does require correspondence view. And though the statement may mean nothing to McDuffee and some of his colleagues, it meant a great deal to the original framers and signers of the statement – and presumably to the Moody board, as well.

The signers and framers saw the danger of stripping words of their apparent meaning and denying the reality of certain parts of Scripture. Though clearly not everything in Scripture is meant to be taken literally, certainly those parts that are historical must be interpreted as historical. And once theologians begin allowing error in any part of Scripture, it’s just a matter of time until they allow error in all of it.

The documents distributed by the inerrancy committee pervert the meaning and intent of the Chicago Statement and present a deceptive argument for anyone who wishes to do likewise. Contrary to these committee members’ assertions, they have not shown that there’s no inerrancy problem at Moody, but the exact opposite.

I understand professors’ desire to defend their colleagues. And perhaps there are good arguments supporting Rim’s and Varma’s view, which have not yet been expressed. But as Montgomery told me, “sympathy for the dissident” is “exactly how Princeton Theological Seminary went down the drain.” Professors and administrators must keep in mind that there is something far greater than men’s reputations at stake. This is about upholding inerrancy and protecting the future of Moody. 

Given the inerrancy committee’s response, it’s clear that the board needs to affirm the original intent of the Chicago Statement and explicitly require a correspondence view. I pray the board will do so when it meets next Thursday and Friday.

*An earlier version did not include the first part of this sentence, which was added to provide clarity on Professor McDuffee’s position.

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72 thoughts on “Moody Professors Protest: Will Sign Chicago Statement but it “Means Nothing to Me”

  1. Bob Boulger

    Sad. Sad. No giving of thanks. No exulting Jesus. Only controversy. Our hearts are sooo hard.

  2. david thomas

    So the fact that some members of The Faculty would sign something they knew was untrue in their own minds in other words they’re committing perjury… Should be meaningless because after all it really doesn’t matter. Again in court perjury would be a matter the Court would be very severely with, namely prison. That fact alone you should make everybody’s very wary of those individuals. After all they would be neither good perjurers having admitted they’re Liars nor good Christians because they violate one of the key Commandments Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    • Randall

      No where in this article does it say that “some members of the faculty would sign something they knew was untrue in their own minds.”

  3. Melvin Pumphrey Jr

    Thank you for your continued updates on the Moody biblical inerrancy problem! One day all at Moody will be grateful for this work that you are doing!

  4. Lisa

    It seems whatthey are signing is that they will teach it, even if they don’t believe it.

  5. Gary Adams

    Very sad.

  6. Russell

    But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one (Matt 5:37). Tainted; all is tainted. I have loved Moody for years; radio, Today in the Word, etc., etc.; but I cannot say this anymore. Everything is suspect. My wife and I have no children; who will we leave everything to? Moody used to come to mind, but no more.

    • Dwayne

      I would encourage you to reconsider. I graduated from Moody in 1998 and have lived in Chicago ever since. Moody wasn’t perfect in ‘98 nor is it now. But the faculty and staff that I know remain some of the most godly people I know and when there has been falls they have been faithful to address it. Give the school a call. Here their side of the story. Pray and follow God’s leading. Moody definitely needs prayer and the next generation of students needs prayer more than ever before.

  7. Blake Shaw

    Seems pretty simple professors. Sign the document. If you can’t, there are plenty of other schools you can go to who are in a spiral downhill into liberalism. Maybe it’s time for Moody to clean the Moody Swamp, get back to embracing the Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Authority of Scripture, and then, from the top down repent and truly embrace and teach the full, Absolute Sufficiency of Christ and His Word. Please Moody, get rid of the psychology.

    • Emily

      All of the professors mentioned in this article embrace “the Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Authority of Scripture”. I’ve studied here at MBI the last several years and at under these professors. This article twist the words of these men to say what Julie wants them to say. IF you don’t believe me, come visit Moody yourself. Talk to these men, other professors, and students. We’d love to talk with people about what is actually going on here and being taught here.

  8. Rolland F. R

    Ditto Russell, for the past several years my deceased wife and I had made Moody the total beneficiary of our family Trust. which is well over $1million. But I AM AFRAID that I am going to have to change the Trust and award the proceeds to some other worthy entity.

    • Emily

      I am currently a senior here at Moody Bible Institute. Please, please, please don’t just take your information from one source. Come talk to Moody professors and students. Come visit the campus. Email or call people. Many people are willing to talk about what is actually going on here. This article is falsely portraying what has happened here at Moody. The professors being accused, Rim and Varma, hold to biblical inerrancy. The professors don’t want to water down the Moody statement. I urge you seek more information and not just take one person’s word on this. I am graduating soon and I have always heard inerrancy taught. Please don’t think so poorly of us here and please be in prayer as to how proceed from here.

      • Emily, I quoted numerous first-hand sources. What was false? Please be specific.

        • JGoodrich

          Here are two errors. First, these professors are no “openly protesting” the board’s decision. These professors, acting as committee members, wrote private documents that they issued to the faculty, not to you or to anybody else. Someone has leaked them to you, and you are now openly publicizing their contents. Second, you are ripping sound bites out of context and allowing your readers to infer from them that these men do not actually affirm the Chicago Statement. The entire Bible and Theology division affirms the Chicago Statement, which is why they are willing to sign it. Please stop smearing MBI and speaking into issues about which you know very little.

          • I can appreciate your perspective John. I guess it’s a matter of interpretation whether publishing documents to more than 130 people who are members of the faculty is “openly protesting” or not. I certainly wouldn’t call those documents private though. The more important issue is your second one. I reported that the members of the Bible/Theology Division will sign the Chicago Statement. That’s not the issue. The issue is what do they mean when they sign the statement? The documents were very clear that the authors do not believe that adherence to a correspondence view is required, which as I understand it, was the point of adopting the statement and requiring them to sign.

          • JGoodrich

            Did the board actually tell you that was the point of requiring the statement?

            Which parts of Scripture do these men claim to be errors? Or is your post one massive slippery slope fallacy?

          • John, whether requiring correspondence view was the point of board’s adoption or not, it certainly was the point of those who created and signed the Chicago Statement. So the main question for professors like you is whether you will uphold the original intent of the document, or argue deceptively that correspondence view is not required to sign?

          • JGoodrich

            “Deceptively”? Please don’t attribute motives to me or my colleagues you do not know to be true. You do not know the hearts of Moody’s faculty members.

            And no, that is not the main question. The main question is, do any of these men believe there to be errors contained in Scripture? The answer is no. That is why your argument is a slippery slope fallacy and why you really should let this go.

          • Forgive me. It’s possible your colleagues made that argument in good faith, but it’s stunning then that professors with so much education and experience would believe the false premise that the framers/signers of the Chicago Statement did not assume correspondence view. To me, and I would guess many alumni, parents, and supporters, that is the point. Individual professors will come and go. But the standard remains. If faculty and administration are going to accept the false premise that correspondence view is not required to sign the statement, then adopting it means very little.

          • JGoodrich

            “…then adopting [the Chicago Statement] means very little.”

            That’s precisely what McDuffie meant when he said that the Chicago Statement “means nothing to [him]”—a phrase you ripped out of context from a sensitive document and from which you are allowing your readers to infer (according to their comments) that he and others don’t actually agree with the Chicago Statement when they sign it. Why don’t you clarify for your readers that the document you are quoting from also contains statements by McDuffie in which he praises the Chicago Statement? And why don’t you directly reply to and correct those commenters (above and below) whom you know to be misinterpreting McDuffie? You sure are quick to reply to those who challenge you. The bottom line is these men are not lying or committing perjury, as some commenters are claiming. They wholeheartedly believe what they are signing, even if they don’t believe Moody’s adoption of the Chicago Statement was necessary.

          • Perhaps you missed it, but I did add a phrase when I realized some were interpreting McDuffee’s statement in that way. (See above) But the issue remains that your colleagues advanced a view that allows faculty to sign the Chicago Statement while simultaneously denying a correspondence view. And they argued that adherence to a correspondence view is not required for inerrancy. Do they want to retract that?

        • Julie, I affirm the Chicago Statement and I share your stated concerns, but I see in the comments how people are reading too much into your quotes which they don’t understand (anymore than they seem to understand the issue being discussed). I fear the negativity and sensationalism with which the information is presented is causing undo harm. Please correct your readers who conclude from your article that Dr. McDuffee doesn’t uphold inerrancy. Please clarify that no one is signing something they don’t agree with. I hold to the correspondence view, and agree that it is assumed by the Chicago Statement, and yet I don’t think those who disagree yet still hold to inerrancy should be accused of being unethical when they sign it.

          • I added a line to my article to try and clarify the point about McDuffee. But I can’t vouch that “no one is signing something they don’t agree with.” I don’t know the entire faculty nor where each of them stand on this issue. Also, given that some Bible/Theology faculty have promoted the idea that a person doesn’t need to affirm correspondence theory to sign, some may have signed under a false understanding.

          • JGoodrich

            As a member of the Bible and Theology division, I can vouch for these men. And as a matter of Christian charity, I think its our responsibility to give their motives the benefit of the doubt until credible evidence surfaces to the contrary. Frankly, while I can appreciate the opinions of people like Montgomery and Geisler on matters of theology, it is astonishing that they presume to know the intentions of everybody who disagrees with them on the issue of correspondence. Beyond that, I think it is regrettable that this blog has given voice to such baseless suppositions. It is God alone “who searches hearts” (Rom 8:27).

          • This is not a matter of judging peoples’ intentions. It is a matter of judging professors’ views that were published to the entire faculty. You’re continually muddying the waters, John. It was those views, not what motivated them, that Montgomery,Luck, and also Strachan were responding to. (As I stated in the piece, Geisler predicted before the documents were published that professors would claim that correspondence view is not required.) So please, answer my question: Given Montgomery, Luck, and Geisler’s testimony, do you affirm McDuffee, Sanchez & Quiggle’s assertion that correspondence view is not required to sign the Chicago Statement?

          • JGoodrich

            No, Julie. This issue and your post are not just about judging views. At issue here, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, is also how Christians ought to dialogue about matters that are “up for debate.” When you quoted Geisler as saying, “I know why they don’t want to accept a correspondence view of truth – because they want to believe the Bible can have errors, factual errors, and still be inerrant,” you were giving voice to his judgments about the motives and intentions of my colleagues. That, and your willingness to post the quote, is what I was saying is regrettable, because that kind of presumption and slander are sub Christian.

            Has Geisler ever spoken to the men in question? Apart from the broad labels “coherence” and “correspondence,” does he have any idea how these men nuance their views? If Geisler can be so sure that my colleagues want to believe the Bible contains errors, then can he tell us what specific errors, “factual errors,” they believe are contained in Scripture? The truth is that Geisler has never spoken to these men, he is insufficiently familiar with their beliefs, and he certainly has never heard them claim that the Bible contains errors. And the same applies to you, Julie. If you cannot prove that Moody professors believe the Bible has errors, then please stop insinuating as much.

            Julie, asking Christians to disagree in a Christlike manner, with grace and humility while avoiding straw man arguments, is not “muddying the waters.” It is prioritizing our character over winning the debate. Let us never forget that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1).

            Now, to your question about what is required to sign the Chicago Statement, I won’t answer it, because on Moody’s campus the only opinion that really matters on this issue is the board’s–not yours, not mine, not the committee’s, not Geisler’s, not anybody else’s. So please stop asking me to give you an answer.

          • John… You seem to be missing that journalists print other peoples’ opinions, even those with whom they disagree. Geisler is an authority on this topic and that’s why I printed his opinion. But I thought Geisler went too far in his statement too and that’s why I wrote: “I can’t speak to the professors’ motives, nor can I, given such limited information know for sure what Rim and Varma mean by their denial of correspondence view.” I did not insinuate they were trying to say the Bible has errors, but actually extending to them the benefit of doubt.

            I completely agree with you that it is the board that needs to decide this matter.

          • JGoodrich

            Julie,
            I did see and appreciated your comment following Geisler’s statement. But I’m not sure you are giving Moody professors the benefit of the doubt. The title of your post doesn’t suggest that you are–it’s quite inflammatory. Neither does the sentence that reads, “Contrary to these committee members’ assertions, they have not shown that there’s no inerrancy problem at Moody, but the exact opposite.” How is the readers not supposed to interpret that as implying that some Moody professors reject inerrancy?

          • If the headline is inflammatory, it’s because McDuffee’s paper was inflammatory. The headline accurately portrayed the tone of his 14-page paper. I am curious, though. Did you evaluate your colleagues’ documents according to the same standard of Christian charity, grace, humility, giving the benefit of the doubt, etc… by which you evaluated my piece? Did you or any of your colleagues express concerns to any of them?

            I stand by my statement about the inerrancy problem at Moody. Whether done innocently or cunningly, your colleagues have undermined the purpose and intent of the Chicago Statement and rendered it ineffectual. That standard is there to serve as a safeguard of inerrancy for current and future faculty, but now has been severely undermined — so much so that the trustees now must act. Whatever the problem is or isn’t, what your colleagues have done exacerbates it. And their actions certainly undermine my confidence, and likely the confidence of others, that the faculty will act as watchmen.

          • JGoodrich

            Well, I would argue that the headline itself doesn’t accurately convey the contents of McDuffie’s paper or how he truly feels about the Chicago Statement. You well know that the headline quotes him out of context for rhetorical effect, and your original, unedited post did the same. The sliver of context that has been provided since is, sadly, too little too late.

            In any case, yes, I have spoken to various committee members, weeks ago, about the documents and about how Christian ethics should influence what and how we report facts. But that’s between me and them.

          • I think it captures the contents of McDuffee’s paper perfectly, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. I’m glad you had a conversation with some committee members. I hope someone talked to Larry Davidhizar about his office publishing a document like that to the entire faculty.

    • David M

      Matthew 6 has some words about how publicly our giving ought to be.

  9. Susan Vonder Heide

    The strength of MBI historically has been that it tends to take biblical truth seriously. That truth should inform MBI’s mission (not gods of laxity or gods of rigidity but the God revealed in scripture).

  10. S. P.

    Julie, could you please clarify how many MBI professors will sign the statement and have it “mean nothing” and those who openly oppose it. Your statements make it sound as though the majority will sign it without believing it/openly oppose it, but so far you’ve mentioned Rim (who was not hired back), Varma (still on faculty) and McDuffy (who is retiring).

    • Are you sure McDuffee is retiring? If he were, I don’t know why he’d be signing the statement at all. The documents I was privy to only mentioned those who were a part of the inerrancy committee. As for the rest of the faculty, I don’t know how they feel. There’s a Twitter account called @savemoody that posted something about that last Friday, but it doesn’t name sources so I’m reluctant to repeat the info.

  11. Thank you for your courage, Julie. You remind my husband and me of those JFK wrote about in Profiles in Courage. More important, “If anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

  12. Linn

    Before I was a Christian, I was raised in a church where I learned a lot about the Bible. But, you weren’t supposed to really believe it,; just the wonderful “truths” you derived from it. Except, none of the truths were really, to quote Francis Schaeffer, “true truth.” They were nice little inspirational sayings that I could have found in any greeting card. What brought me to faith was reading the Bible on my own, and asking myself the question “what if this really is true?” The Holy Spirit used that question to change my entire perspective, and I came to faith in the Savior. Once you begin debating what is “true” about Scripture, it’s only downhill from there. I pray that Moody will understand that a signature only does not represent true belief. They need to really discuss matter with the faculty.

  13. jo

    I am curious what you are trying to accomplish? You have voiced problems at Moody and made blanket statements about the need for change but are not satisfied with the solutions Moody is coming up with. What specifically would you have Moody do?

    • The last paragraph of my article answers your question.

  14. G7

    Bunch of wooses. To all faculty at Moody, SIGN THE ENTIRE Chicago Statement.

  15. Susan Vonder Heide

    Julie is right to be concerned about the dangers of theological drift and others are right to be concerned about any overemphasis on a statement. MBI will be fine going forward if it truly follows Christ as revealed in Scripture. This is easier said than done in the 21st Century with all kinds of goofy notions floating around in the wider culture but it is what Christians are called to do.

  16. Randall J Birtell

    Excellent article Julie. You have brought light to the crux of the matter, the correspondence view of truth.

    The Moody controversy has many similarities to the Evangelical Theological Society controversy on inerrancy a few years back. There too, the question centered around a group of theologians (Open Theists) who wished to affirm the Chicago Statement without holding to a correspondence view of truth.

    The late Dr. R. C. Sproul did a great service by writing a booklet titled Explaining Inerrancy: A Commentary (Oakland: ICBI, 1980). On page 31 he wrote this…

    “By biblical standards of truth and error is meant the view used both in the Bible and in everyday life, viz., a correspondence view of truth. This part of the article is directed toward those who would redefine truth to relate merely to redemptive intent, [emphasis added] the purely personal or the like, rather than to mean that which corresponds with reality.”

    There is no question, the framers of the Chicago Statement under stood the word “truth” to mean “correspondence view”.

    Here is a link to the full article concerning the ETS controversy written by myself and Randal Ming.

    http://midwestoutreach.org/2017/12/11/the-road-to-defend-inerrancy-is-not-paved-with-good-intentions/#fnref-8967-28

  17. To go against Quiggle and McDuffee on a matter of interpretation of a historical theology question seems unwise. I do not think these two men would be as reckless and obstinate as they are being painted to be in this article. For decades professors signed the statement about the Trinity that MBI had, which was Modalism, simply because they school would not change it due to a fear of donor backlash. I am afraid that these blog posts are doing little more than causing a (potentially monstrous) donor backlash due to a fragmentary disagreement in philosophical hermeneutics.

    I trust Quiggle and McDufee on almost every single matter in the history of creeds, synods, and statements. If they say their colleagues are in alignment, they do so out of an understanding of truth.

  18. Well, it’s not me who’s going up against them; it’s Drs. Montgomery, Luck, Geisler, and Strachan. Quiggle and McDuffee are very clear in their documents that they do not believe correspondence view is required to sign the Chicago Statement. I was very surprised that they and Sanchez would make that argument, as well. Perhaps they would like to change their stance?

    • Andrew K

      Are Montgomery, Luck, Geisler, and Strachan really going against Quiggle and McDuffee? Or have you asked them questions regarding inerrancy and the correspondence view apart from a full knowledge of the Moody situation and then published their comments as contrary to your portrayal of Quiggle, McDuffee, and Sanchez?

      • I gave Montgomery, Luck, and Strachan the relevant portions of the document written by McDuffee, and they responded directly to what was written in the document. Geisler, as I reported, made his comments when the board first adopted the Chicago Statement, predicting almost to a T what would happen.

        • JGoodrich

          We ALL predicted this, Julie, which is, in part, why the committee wrote those documents!

          • Geisler predicted faculty would argue that signing the Chicago Statement doesn’t require adhering to correspondence view, which is what the committee’s documents argued. He predicted your colleagues’ response, John. I think that’s a very different prediction than whatever prediction you’re referring to.

          • JGoodrich

            No, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. And we saw it coming even BEFORE the board’s decision.

          • Wow, so you’re still maintaining that the original framers/signers did not assume correspondence view despite their testimony to the contrary? I’m stunned. On what basis?

          • JGoodrich

            Perhaps what you don’t realize is that some of the committee’s documents (which, btw, were unethically leaked to you) were written and presented to the board PRIOR to their decision.

          • JGoodrich

            I’m not claiming anything about the framers’ intention. How did you infer that from what I wrote?

          • The argument McDuffee made was that signing the Chicago Statement does not require correspondence view because the original signers didn’t have that understanding when they signed the document. That understanding was added later when Geisler and Sproul wrote their commentaries. McDuffee also argued that the framers of the statement may not have intended correspondence view when they created the document because they only use the word “correspondence” once. His entire argument is predicated on the false notion that the framers/signers didn’t assume correspondence view so it’s not required to sign the document.

        • And yes, I fully understand that the documents were created prior to the trustees’ meeting to try and convince them not to adopt the Chicago Statement.

  19. Ron R

    What is happening at Moody is a microcosm of evangelicalism in general. As a pastor for over 25 years, I have repeatedly witnessed this ‘clever’ reinterpretation of words, phrases, and documents. It is everywhere, parading as evangelical scholarship. Our institutions of higher education are especially prone to this. It is here that we must be very diligent in our watchfulness. It is deception, and fatally dangerous. It is the watershed that Schaeffer warned against some 35 years ago in “The Great Evangelical Disaster.” That book is worth a reread. Prophetic all over again.

    I would encourage Moody to have an interview with each prof, utilizing wise independent interviewers like Lutzer and Mohler to determine precisely where each teacher stands. Mohler has lots of experience in rescuing his school. And I would have each one sign the longer version of The Chicago Ststement, sonthere can be no doubt.

    Thanks Julie for this. It’s a spiritual battle. You will get shot. But it’s the right thing to do.

    I plan on attending the Pastor’s Conference in a few weeks. Could be an interesting sideshow.

  20. T. Kent Atkins

    As a once young and now old, (and getting older) theologue, it seems we have been here at least once before. The infamous “death of God” movement and call to “declare a moratorium on speech about God,” in the late 60’s and early 70’s, was in large part due to the problems of a correspondent view of truth and sophistic games games played with Wittgenstein’s notion of language. There must be some common world view to speak to and understand each other. The moment we assume this to be true is the moment the words mean nothing to some. It would seem to me that we must adopt the correspondence view to have a mutual understanding of “propositional truth”, ie truth that can be stated in propositions.

  21. Aaron

    The part that saddens me is that McDuffee seems to see this as an attack on faculty as if they have done something wrong. Instead of seeing it as ripping open a wound each time he signs it, I wish he could be grateful that they are attempting to clarify standards that need clarifying.

    I also would have liked to have seen the board adopt the full Chicago Statement instead of the short statement. It would have added one more layer of help with all of this.

  22. Micah

    These are serious allegations against brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ who have been faithfully building up and sending out students into the world as minsters of the gospel. Do you have any SPECIFIC examples of things that have actually been said/taught in the classroom that are contrary to scripture?

    • I didn’t allege that professors are teaching something in their classrooms that is contrary to Scripture. I only alleged what I had evidence for — that professors are claiming that correspondence view is not required for either inerrancy nor the Chicago Statement. I am very careful not to say more or less than the evidence supports.

      • Micah

        You have suggested and implied that Moody has an inerrancy problem. As a result, some people have said they will no longer fund or support Moody. Yet you have offered no actual evidence of any false teaching.

        • Right — because I didn’t allege false teaching at Moody. I alleged it has an inerrancy problem. Those are two different things. Of course, one can lead to the other, but let’s not conflate issues.

          • Micah

            You have suggested that there are professors at Moody who are untrustworthy–who do not uphold Holy Scripture. Moody Bible Institute has some of the best students around–solid, faithful, brave young men and women serving in the Chicago area, the U.S, and across the world. If there was any problem with inerrancy at Moody, then I am confident they would be verbal about it. Some of the above mentioned professors have been teaching for many, many years. Yet you have not offered one example of a student or anyone else who has expressed concerns or provided evidence that these professors have been unfaithful. You simply cannot allege that Moody has an inerrancy problem without people concluding that this affects their teaching.

    • I did not say they were “untrustworthy.” I said they don’t hold a correspondence view of truth, and gave examples of why correspondence view is important, and also required by the Chicago Statement. I completely agree with you that Moody has some of the best students and graduates in the country. It also has some of the best professors, though I am sad that some of the finest are being let go this month.

  23. Richard

    In one aspect, your presentation of the debate has been very one sided. Yes, not many MBI professors on the other side as you on the debate have engaged in conversation with you, but like you engaged with some outside of MBI like Geisler, why have you not engaged with those on the other side of the inerrancy debate (i.e. those who hold to inerrancy without also holding to the Chicago statement)? The latter group is very common among professors in evangelical schools, so they are not hard to find. Examples: Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary), William Lane Craig (Houston Baptist University), Craig Evans (Houston Baptist University), Dan Wallace (Dallas Theological Seminary), and Robert Yarborough (Covenant Theological Seminary).

    • Moody adopted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, so other definitions/standards of inerrancy, while interesting, are not germane to this discussion. The question isn’t whether there are other definitions of inerrancy within evangelicalism; clearly there are. The question is what meets the definition/standard at Moody?

  24. Richard

    They did…but Christianity itself is bigger than what a few men on a Bible college board decided on the matter, or a few hundred who signed the Chicago statement. Your discussion has led many to wonder, regardless of what MBI’s board decided, how to come to a conclusion themselves. In that way, you only presented one side of the debate to these people who hold to inerrancy but wonder, for example, why the Chicago statement is necessary. It seems like the Chicago statement is referred to more than the Bible itself in the discussion.

  25. I agree. Christianity is much bigger than Moody or evangelicalism, for that matter. But again, my articles have dealt with how Moody defines inerrancy, not all of the Christian church. That being said, I have reached out to some theologians about doing a podcast on the topic with leaders on both sides of the issue. We’ll see what comes of that. I’m certainly open to honest theological debate about correspondence and inerrancy.

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