In a recent message delivered at The Meeting House, Bruxy Cavey spoke about the Anabaptist view of Scripture. It seemed like it was very possibly, at least in part, a response to this recent article and some of the criticism that has been coming his way. In that message he said that Anabaptists are not “anti-Inerrancy”, they just don’t use the word “Inerrancy” to describe their view. He claimed that because of this Anabaptists may be labelled heretics. He said:
“Some Anabaptists, like the Brethren in Christ have no doctrine of Inerrancy of Scripture. We’re not anti-inerrancy, we simply embrace the perfection of Christ more than we highlight the perfection of Scripture.” – Radical Reformation #2 – Anabaptists and Scripture (9:15)
“Sometimes people say ‘we need to hear you say the word inerrant to feel better about you’. And that’s how heresy works, heresy works by the majority setting the rules of the game and saying ‘well here’s the word you have to say so we can approve of you’ and Anabaptists just said ‘then I guess we don’t need your approval’. ” – Radical Reformation #2 – Anabaptists and Scripture (20:48)
So, there are two specific claims here which need some attention. I am going to forego dealing with Anabaptists as a group or the Brethren In Christ (his denomination) and deal with Bruxy Cavey individually, since he places himself in these camps.
As an aside, I dealt with Bruxy’s view of Scripture, it’s authority and inerrancy here.
Is it true that Bruxy Cavey is not “anti-inerrancy”?
What does it mean to be anti-inerrancy? Anti simply means “opposed to”, so if a person were “anti-inerrancy” they would be opposed to inerrancy. That’s simple enough, so is Bruxy Cavey opposed to inerrancy?
Bruxy Cavey has a history of speaking specifically on the issue of inerrancy. In fact, one of the first videos I ever saw of him was one where he was teaching at a University on the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. He also did a series at The Meeting House in January of 2016 called “Inspired”, which was about the Bible and it’s role. If we want to know if Bruxy Cavey is opposed to inerrancy all we should have to do is listen to what he has said about it in the past.
“It hinders our evangelism to say our faith is based on the authoritative and infallible word of God and say that’s the Bible instead of Jesus. It discredits Christ by taking qualities of Christ – his sinless perfection – and trying to attribute those to Scripture. And it also sets up Christians for a downfall. Especially young adult Christians who will then head off to university, they take a religious studies class, they learn about some of the basic mistakes that academics are all aware of but pastor’s just don’t talk about in the church, they’ve been protected from that. And then when it’s talked about plainly in an academic setting their faith is rocked, they’re shocked and they feel like their faith is built on a house of cards. Well, it IS if your faith is built on Scripture as inerrant it is a house of cards. If it’s built on Christ, the solid rock on which we stand then it’s based on something sure and perfect and beautiful and powerful and authoritative. So, I want us to excel in evangelism – inerrancy gets in the way. I want us to promote Christ as central, authoritative and perfect – inerrancy gets in the way. And I also want to take care of those Christians who are growing and are going to go into the world and learn about Scripture from different voices. I want them to be prepared for that and not to see their faith crumble. Inerrancy is unhelpful rather than helpful as a word, and as a concept.” – Inspired #3 Drive Home- (17:20)
Bruxy believes that inerrancy as both a word and concept is a hindrance to evangelism, it discredits Christ Himself, and it sets the Christian faith atop a house of cards. It sounds like maybe Bruxy might actually be opposed to inerrancy. Also, here he is not saying that he just doesn’t highlight the perfection of Scripture as he recently claimed, he is claiming that it is wrong to attribute authority and perfection to Scripture!
Continuing on, Bruxy preached in front of his church”
“Paul says that’s how it is with Scripture, it’s not the fullness of the revelation, Jesus is. ‘OK, Jesus is, how do I get to know Jesus?’ – through Scripture. But I read Scripture now with a christocentric lens, put him at the center of everything. When we fail to do this we’ll tend toward biblicism. Biblicism is one step toward bibliolotry. Bibliolotry is becoming an idol worshipper of the Bible, using the Bible like it’s an idol. Biblicism is the first steps toward bibliolotry. In biblicism we just subtly begin to use terminology and attitudes and phrases about Scripture that really we should be saying about Jesus. Biblicism happens when we imbue the shadow with the qualities of the substance. And we start to relate to the Bible like it has the character of Christ. So we will say things about the bible that really we should be saying about Jesus. What are some examples? Well, we treat the Bible like it’s Jesus in three ways. We give it centrality – ‘my faith is rooted on Scripture, the bible is the center of my life’ – well, Jesus should be at the center of your life. The bible will help that happen, but it should be Jesus. We submit to it’s authority – ‘the authority of Scripture!’ – well authority, scripturally is a personal concept, it applied to persons, not things. Jesus has all authority. I understand what people mean it’s just a misnomer and it breeds a kind of biblicism that can move us off center of Christ. And if we overemphasize its inerrancy. Notice – ‘it, it, it’ – these are ‘it’ things whereas Jesus is a ‘he, he, he’ thing. It should all be about Jesus.” – Inspired #3 (22:10)
Here Bruxy tells us that overemphasizing inerrancy is actually a form of biblicism that leads to bibliolatry, worship of the Bible itself. Is he opposed to bibliolotry? I think he is.
Our final example is this.
“So, now some examples of inerrancy, or a lack of inerrancy in the New Testament. We’ll stick to the New Testament, there’s just so many throughout Scripture but uh, here are three in the New Testament. And this is the stuff that academics are aware of, and talk about, and from an Anabaptist perspective they do not throw us off for a moment but from an Evangelical perspective this can be challenging to someone’s faith and it shouldn’t be.” Bruxy goes on to point out supposed errors in Mark 1:2, 1Corinthians 1:14-17, and Titus 1:12-13. – Inspired #3 Drive Home- (19:03)
Bruxy here directly teaches against inerrancy by offering examples of what he sees as errors in the text of Scripture. Does this mean he is opposed to inerrancy? If I were to offer refutation and denial of a specific teaching most people would come to the conclusion that I was opposed to that teaching.
So we can conclude that Bruxy Cavey has taught that the concept of inerrancy of Scripture is not true, damaging to evangelism, damaging to faith, discrediting to Christ, and leads to idolatry. I think it is entirely fair to conclude that Bruxy Cavey, despite recent claims in front of his own church, is certainly “anti-inerrancy”. It’s not simply a case of embracing the perfection of Christ more than highlighting the perfection of Scripture, it is an outright denial of the perfection of Scripture and the assertion that attributing perfection to Scripture is sinful!
For more from Bruxy on this topic you can check out this message he very recently delivered at Greg Boyd’s Church.
Is it true that Bruxy is accused of error simply for not using the term inerrancy to articulate his view of Scripture?
One can be quickly forgiven for not using the term inerrancy so long as they hold to the concept. Like many modern terms we use the term inerrancy was one that came out of a specific controversy at a specific time in history to identify those who came down on a certain side of the debate. Because of this the church before the time of the controversy did not use the term because it would not have had the meaning we give it today. Although this is true, we can find the concept behind the word inerrancy in the writing of many, many Christian leaders and thinkers before the 19th century (I’ve highlighted just one here and here). We do not criticize those writers for not using the right term! Nor should we criticize someone today who teaches the concept of the inerrancy of Scripture without using the word.
Bruxy Cavey, though, is not one who simply does not use the word, but he teaches directly against inerrancy. As we saw in the quotes above, and could demonstrate further with many other portions of his teaching, he is not only opposed to using the word inerrancy, but he is opposed to the very concept. He teaches regularly that the Bible has many errors throughout (see here, here and here). He has even taught that portions of Scripture are not just errant, but sinful! He tries to use Scripture to prove that Scripture teaches against inerrancy. That is the reason I and others are critical of his view of Scripture, not simply because he doesn’t use the word we want him to use. We aren’t saying to him “we need to hear you say the word inerrant to feel better about you” or “well here’s the word you have to say so we can approve of you” as he alleges. We are saying “we need to hear you teach and preach from the Scriptures with the respect they deserve as the very words of God in order to know you are not deceiving the flock of God.”
Bruxy Cavey seems to be trying to do a bit of damage control. In the statements he made he is trying to defend his view from the criticism coming his way, but to do so he has chosen to downplay his own controversial position and misrepresent the criticism against him. He states that he is not opposed to inerrancy, but his consistent teaching demonstrates that he is. He says that Inerrantists label people heretics for not using the specific word inerrancy, but the criticism of his view is not a minor quibble over terminology, it is focused on the concepts he is teaching against.
I’m not sure why Bruxy doesn’t just say “yes, I am opposed to inerrancy as a word and concept” since he has a long documented history of teaching that very thing. Maybe you should ask him.