The Bruxy Cavey Maneuver on Inerrancy

In some recent material put out by Bruxy Cavey (see here and here), he claims that he agrees with, or “aligns with” the doctrine of inerrancy. That may take some people off guard considering Cavey’s documented history of refuting both the word and concept of inerrancy (partially documented here and here and here). So, what is going on here?

In this post I will hopefully shed some light on what I see Bruxy Cavey doing in his attempts to appear to affirm scriptural inerrancy from the record of his own teaching

I am going to reference Bruxy Cavey’s blog article published in 2018 on the subject and compare and contrast it with some of his teaching from his Drive Home podcast in 2016.

What’s Cavey say?

2018

First, let’s take a look at what Cavey says in his blog article Radical Christians & the Word of God (Part 2 of 3): Inerrancy from July 13, 2018 (it’s the same thing he says in the video as well):

“The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states that the Bible is ‘to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms’ and adds that ‘Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching.’ Radical Christians can say “amen” to this. What the Bible affirms, what it means to teach, it does so perfectly. As the Statement of Faith for Tyndale Seminary, a local Evangelical seminary where I sometimes teach, says, the Bible is “the authoritative written Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, inerrant in all that it teaches” – a statement I have been happy to align with. It isn’t my primary language as an Anabaptist, but neither do I object to the idea. For Anabaptists, we are less concerned about the language of inerrancy as we are about using the Bible, Old and New Testaments, to help us see Jesus clearly and follow him faithfully.”

So, is Cavey affirming the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy? Well, of course not. The Chicago Statement, along with it’s exposition, goes to great lengths to clarify and qualify it’s position in such a way that Cavey could not possibly affirm it based on his teachings. It’s worth noting that within the very same article Cavey directly contradicts the Chicago Statement repeatedly and gives examples of multiple “errors” he sees in the text.

In this article, we can see that Cavey wants to align with inerrancy under very specific conditions:

  1. As long as it is defined as “what the Bible affirms, what it means to teach, it does so perfectly”.
  2. In such a way that inerrancy affirms the existence of errors in the text of Scripture.

This piqued my interest when I read it because I have been listening to Cavey’s teachings on inerrancy for some time now, and this sounded eerily familiar to me.

2016

I remembered something he said in his podcast Inspired #3 – The Shadow and the Substance: Drive home back in 2016. In part of a section that starts around the 11:50 mark, Cavey says:

“Now, another maneuver of inerrantists Is to say ‘well, by inerrancy now’ because it’s really hard for people to uphold the idea of every word being perfect and no mistakes being there because there are small ones, what inerrantists will say is ‘by inerrancy what we mean is that everything the Bible intends to teach as truth it does so, even if there are small mistakes of fact here or there on minor things, all of those are gathered up together to teach the ultimate truth of Christ and it does that, the Bible does that with no error’. Well, I would absolutely agree, but that’s not technically inerrancy, that’s what’s called infallibility, which is a doctrine of the Bible being truthful in all it intends to teach and it may intend to teach these things by showing you some mistakes in the people who are talked about in Scripture and are even involved in the writing process of Scripture. It’s infallible, it will lead you toward truth in everything it wants to say but that may include some of the errors that are laid bare before us. Scripture, God, The Holy Spirit will use those errors to lead us toward truth infallibly. Inerrancy is not that. So, many inerrantists really will talk about infallibility and about God wanting to teach His truth and say “that’s what I mean by inerrancy’. Then we’re just shifting meanings because then an Evangelical can feel comfortable saying ‘I still believe in inerrancy’ they’ve now just shifted the definition of what inerrancy is.

Inspired #3 – The Shadow and the Substance: Drive home (Emphasis mine)

There are multiple issues with Cavey’s statement here, but for our purposes I want to focus on the fact that in 2016 Cavey laid out exactly the maneuver he attempted in 2018.

Maneuver Defined

Look closely. Cavey rightly, though roughly, summarizes the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy as “the idea of every word being perfect and no mistakes being there”. But, Cavey says that in order to appear to affirm inerrancy some people want to define inerrancy as:

everything the Bible intends to teach as truth it does so, even if there are small mistakes of fact here or there on minor things, all of those are gathered up together to teach the ultimate truth of Christ and it does that, the Bible does that with no error.”

OR

the Bible being truthful in all it intends to teach and it may intend to teach these things by showing you some mistakes in the people who are talked about in Scripture and are even involved in the writing process of Scripture.”

Notice the two specific assertions of the definitions Cavey references here:

  1. The Bible teaches what it intends to teach perfectly.
  2. Scripture contains errors of fact.

Cavey goes on to object to this definition, saying “but that’s not technically inerrancy”. Cavey calls utilizing this definition of inerrancy a “maneuver” employed by those who want to redefine inerrancy so they can still give the appearance of affirming it when, in fact, they do not. He says:

“Then we’re just shifting meanings because then an Evangelical can feel comfortable saying ‘I still believe in inerrancy’ they’ve now just shifted the definition of what inerrancy is.”

It sounds to me like Bruxy Cavey thinks this “maneuver” is a little bit dishonest. He points out a very real problem with many who want to give the appearance that they affirm inerrancy – a willingness to dishonestly redefine terms and play with the language and “shift” the definition.

For example, when someone says that “The Bible is truthful in all it intends to teach” or “everything the Bible intends to teach as truth it does so, even if there are small mistakes of fact here or there on minor things”, then the dishonest person can still affirm the existence of errors in what the Bible does teach by denying that the Bible intends to teach those things. Or, they can affirm that it is through error that the Bible is teaching the truth it intends. Clearly, this is NOT scriptural inerrancy, which is the doctrine that Scripture is exempt from error.

Maneuver Accomplished

Now that we have Cavey’s definition of the maneuver, we compare it to what he said in 2018 on the subject.

Let’s recall the two points of the definition of inerrancy Cavey says he “aligns with” in 2018:

  1. “What the Bible affirms, what it means to teach, it does so perfectly.”
  2. Errors exist in the text of Scripture.

And now recall the two points in the definition of inerrancy that Cavey himself identified as a definition-shifting maneuver designed to give the appearance of affirmation where there is none:

  • The Bible teaches what it intends to teach perfectly.
  • Errors exist in the text of Scripture. .

There you have it. Bruxy Cavey told us what the maneuver is for those who do not affirm inerrancy but want to give the appearance of doing so. Now two years later he is executing that very maneuver (and fooling some people, I might add).

How about Infallibility?

It seems to me that Cavey is also playing with the definition of the term infallibile or infallibility. Notice in the quote from 2016, Cavey affirms the doctrine of infallibility, and defines it as follows:

“(the) doctrine of the Bible being truthful in all it intends to teach and it may intend to teach these things by showing you some mistakes in the people who are talked about in Scripture and are even involved in the writing process of Scripture. It’s infallible, it will lead you toward truth in everything it wants to say but that may include some of the errors that are laid bare before us. Scripture, God, The Holy Spirit will use those errors to lead us toward truth infallibly.”

However, in his article from 2018 Cavey quotes a Brethren in Christ scholar, Luke Keefer Jr’s definition of infallible:

“Terms like ‘inerrant’ and ‘infallible’ are negative terms. They declare what the Bible is not – that it contains no errors and is not capable of being at fault. There is an assumption that the Bible must be defended against certain attacks upon it. But certainly it needs no such defense against people who believe that it is the only complete, reliable, true, and authoritative Word of God.”

Luke Keefer, Jr., “Inerrancy” and the Brethren In Christ View of Scripture (as quoted by Bruxy Cavey)

Cavey quotes Keefer in his article as part of his argument that the terms inerrant and infallible are unnecessary. Keefer rightly defines infallible as “not capable of being at fault”, which is very different from Cavey’s definition he used only two years prior. In 2016, Cavey affirmed infallibility based on the former definition, but here in 2018 he could not affirm Keefer’s definition of either scriptural infallibility or inerrancy that he quotes as evidence for his own position.

Conclusion

What Bruxy Cavey is saying in 2018 is outright exposed by his own teaching back in 2016. Cavey is currently embroiled in controversy. He has spent the past several years teaching against certain doctrines, inerrancy being one of them, and now that the heat is on it is in his best interest to give the appearance of substantially affirming those doctrines. The problem is that in order to do so he has to resort to the very same definition-shifting maneuvers he renounced as dishonest only a couple of years ago.

So, what does Cavey mean when he uses the terms inerrant and infallible? If you go by the definitions he used in 2016, Cavey denies inerrancy, but formally affirms infallibility. But, if you go by his definitions in 2018, Cavey formally affirms (or, at least “aligns with”) inerrancy and denies infallibility. If you go by the definitions for each term he cites from Luke Keefer Jr., then he rejects both.

As it turns out, what Cavey really affirms is that “what the Bible affirms, what it means to teach, it does so perfectly, even though there are errors” (which is neither an affirmation of inerrancy nor infallibility). It seems he applies this as the definition of either term depending on which one he wants to appear to affirm at the time.

Cavey himself points out that this is not an honest move. It’s a maneuver, a shifting of definition intended to give the appearance of formal affirmation where affirmation does not truly exist. Apparently it has allowed him to sign on to Tyndale Seminary’s Statement of Faith, and it is useful in fleecing unsuspecting or naive evangelicals, but even Cavey says it’s dishonest. At least he’s right about that.

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