J.R. Daniel Kirk has an interesting post on why he doesn't believe the pastoral epistles were written by Paul [HT: Michael Bird]. In the post he discusses one of the common reasons why some Evangelicals vigorously demand Pauline authorship: the doctrine of inerrancy. Reflecting on this strong commitment to the historic undestanding of inerrancy that many have Kirk makes the following statement: '...no theology worth holding is going to so exert its control over our reading of the Bible that it will forbid us from saying what good exegesis of the passage demands that we say.'
I think that Kirk is exactly right here and this expresses one of my chief concerns for the continued intellectual viability of Evangelicalism. Why do some so strongly insist that an inerrant Bible must look like 'X?' The 'Xs' are manifold, they may be single authorship of Isaiah, Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, or a literal 7 day material creation within the last 10,000 years to name a few. The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is the most baffling to me. Why is it acceptable for Evangelical NT scholars to hold to Luke being composed from multiple sources like Mark and Q, but an Evangelical OT scholar might receive great backlash from certain quarters if he accepts JEPD? I just don't get it.
If we really trust that God has revealed himself in Scripture and if we really believe that the Bible is true and authoritative, we should let it tell us through our best exegesis what we should believe on these issues. I've had some people suggest that being open on these questions puts me in the position of 'judging the Bible/God.' Aux contrare, if anything, it's the other way around.