The Inerrancy of Scripture
Just over a month ago, I attended the Shepherd's Conference on the Inerrancy of the Bible. To a certain degree, this type of conference should be offered every year because the Bible has been and will always be under attack. Although usually being found in the cross hairs of liberal attacks, the inerrancy of Scripture is even flat out denied by many people who would call themselves Bible-believing Christians. Many say they believe in the Bible and even seem to hold to high view of Scripture, but are hesitant to affirm an inerrant Bible, especially in the area of orgins.
Inerrancy naturally follows a correct understanding of the inspiration of the Scripture (previously addressed in this blog post). If we affirm that the word of God has God as the ultimate author behind its material, then it would naturally follow that the word would be inerrant. God does not lie (Num 23:19) and mislead with what he says.
The Meaning of Inerrancy
So, what does it mean that the Scriptures are inerrant? The Bible is inerrant in that the original manuscripts were composed without error. Nothing that the Bible affirms is untrue or contrary to reality. In everything that the Bible speaks to, it speaks in truth. Affirming inerrancy does not mean that the Bible does not speak in language of appearance (Gen 19:23), approximations (2 Kings 19:35), or loose quotations (Jas 4:5). The following definitions are helpful to see how theologians define inerrancy:
"The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact" (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 90).
"The definition of verbal, plenary inspiration implies that in drawing up the origninal manuscripts, the sacred authors were guided in such a way that they transmitted perfectly, without error, the exact message which God desired to communicate to men" (Rene Pach, "Inerrancy and Inspiration" in The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture, 120).
"Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives" (The Chicago Statement of Inerrancy, A short statement 4).
The Implications of Inerrancy
- Since the Bible is inerrant, it is trustworthy.
We can come to the Bible expecting it to speak truth to us. We do not have to come to the Bible with a skeptical attitude towards what it says. We do need to practice due diligence to ensure that we understand what the Bible is truly saying and to whom it is speaking, but if we do understand that, we can be sure that the Bible is speaking truth. Therefore, even though at time our experiences might seem to point to a conclusion other than the one the Scriptures present, we can be certain that what the Bible says is true.
- Since the Bible is inerrant, we ought to consume it.
No other book in the history of the world speaks truthfully like the Bible. Yet we spend so little time reading and trying to understand what it says. The fact that we know the Bible speaks truthfully ought to drive us to want to know what it says. Inerrancy should cause us to consult the Scriptures first when faced with life's dilemmas and problems to see what the Bible says concerning the issue. Yet more often than not, the Bible is last place we go when faced with difficulties.
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