The Theology of the Bible "in a glass, darkly"
For evangelicals the theology of the Bible is conducted with, amongst other things, all the 'in' words - 'inspiration', 'inerrancy', 'infallibility', and the like. These categories are worth having and discussing but they do confine the debate to certain well-worn channels. I think we evangelicals need to take the discussion wider, even if the 'in' words continue to play a key role.
But let's stick with the 'in' words for now. They are a blessing and a curse serving to open up and close down understanding.
Take 'inerrancy'. As a category this can only really apply to propositions. But as soon as we grasp this then immediately we see that vast amounts of the Bible are simply not candidates for being either 'inerrant' or 'errant'. For instance, was Jesus' prayer, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" errant or inerrant? It is not even a proposition so it cannot be factually true or factually false.
Consequently, to apply the term 'innerrant' to the whole Bible is to stretch its meaning. There may be some value in doing that but we need to be clear about what we are doing and what the term means when so stretched. Often discussions on 'inerrancy' amongst those evangelicals who find the notion helpful (and many evangelicals do not subscribe to innerrancy) lack such nuance.
Furthermore, once we read the Bible we immediately see that we need to add all sorts of qualifications to 'inerrancy' lest the Bible fall short of the standard and be declared 'errant'. Thus the Chicago Statement rightly adds many helpful qualifications.
That is good and wonderful but, as the term 'inerrancy' becomes more flexible, we find that it actually allows all sorts of things that those who use it typically wish to rule out. For instance, as Robert Gundry's Matthew commentary infamously demonstrated, a strong view of biblical innerrancy is fully compatible with an understanding of Matthew's gospel as Midrash and thus full of stories that are not historically accurate! Whether Gundry is right or not about Matthew as Midrash (I incline towards thinking that he is not) he is certainly correct to think that if it is then it can be inerrant whilst not being historically reliable. This 'insight' was not appreciated by some of those who use the terminology of 'inerrancy'. They say (and somtimes shout), "We don't want that kind of Bible!"
To my mind the main problem with some of those who are most keen on all the 'in' words is that the meanings of these 'in' words are decided in advance of a thorough engagement with the actual phenomena of the text that we have. The text is then made to conform to our expectations. We ask ourselves what kind of book that we would have written if we were God and then conclude that the Bible must be that kind of book.
One can see something of this divide at some of the debates at ETS in recent years. My general perception, as an observor, was that some of the theologians had far neater (and over-simplistic?) understandings of the Bible than many of the biblical scholars whose jobs require them to engage with the nitty gritty of the text day by day.
Now I am not against coming the the Bible with pre-formed categories. In fact, I think that it is inevitable so let's just be honest about it. Actually, I would go further and say that Christians should approach the text with theological preconceptions about the kind of text it is. At the most minimal level we should read it as the main text through which God addresses his people (and that really is too minimalist but I am just being tolerant for a minute). What I am against is a failure to allow our theological preconceptions about the Bible to be reshaped as we encounter the text.
I would defend a hermeneutical spiral in which we read the text in the light of certain theological beliefs about it, but then revisit those beliefs in the light of the text itself. We then go back to the text in the light of our revised beliefs about it ... and so on.
To take just one simple issue: consider the vast range of literary genres in the Bible. Then consider the theological categories of 'inspiration' and 'authority'. We may come to the Bible with neat and simple understandings of an inspired and authoritative Bible but once we encounter the text we must surely start asking questions like the following:
"What does it mean for a prayer to be authoritative?"
"What does it mean for a story to be authoritative?"
"Is a law authoritative in a different way from a poem?"
"Is 'authority' the most appropriate category with which to think about this particular part of the text?"
"Can texts function authoritatively differently in different contexts?"
"Is the mode of 'inspiration' of a prophet and the writer of a proverb different and, if so, what are the implications of this?"
Immediately our concepts of inspiration and authority are made more nuanced and complicated.
So my theology of the Bible has never quite settled down and I am not expecting it to in the near future. I have a "high view of Scripture" and I can gesture in the direction of what I do and do not mean by that, but I could not specify exactly. My theology of the Bible is theology seen "in a glass, darkly."