10 Things You Should Know About Biblical Inerrancy |

What do we mean when we affirm the inerrancy of the Bible? The importance of that question has not diminished in the least. It is as crucial today as it was 100 years ago. So let’s look at ten things that will help us understand what we mean (and don’t mean) when we talk about an inerrant Bible.

First, however, it would be useful to note that among evangelicals, two views of biblical inerrancy have dominated the landscape. Some embrace what has been called “limited inerrancy.” One of the ablest defenders of this point of view is Daniel Fuller. According to Fuller and those who follow his lead, the “inerrancy” of a book or piece of literature can be assessed only in light of the author’s intent or purpose. Does the author fulfill his purpose in writing? If so, the work is inerrant. If not, it isn’t. The purpose of the Bible, they say, is to make us “wise unto salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15). The purpose of the Bible is not to make us wise in botany or geology or astronomy or history. Rather, according to Fuller, the biblical writers state that their purpose is to report the events and significance of God’s redemptive acts in history so that men may be wise unto salvation. By this standard, Fuller says, the Bible is inerrant. It is perfectly serving its purpose. It never fails to fulfill its purpose or intent to make the reader wise unto salvation.

Since inerrancy is only to be expected in the case of those Biblical statements that correctly teach or imply the knowledge that makes a man wise for salvation, the Scriptures can and do err on other matters. That is to say that there are passages in the Bible that are incidentally related or unrelated to its main purpose. These incidents or texts are called by Fuller: “matters of non-disclosure”; that is, biblical statements on subjects such as geology, meteorology, cosmology, botany, astronomy, geography, history, etc. Since the primary aim or intent of the author of Scripture is not to teach truths on matters such as these, these truths can be mistaken while Scripture remains inerrant. The Bible is inerrant in those matters that it attempts to teach, in those matters that are essential to make us wise for salvation. Those, and only those, are revelation.

Contrary to the above view, the Bible makes no distinction between inspired and uninspired texts or themes, nor does it place any restrictions on the types of subjects on which it speaks truthfully (see Acts 24:14; Luke 24:25; Rom. 1 Cor. 10:11). Therefore, I embrace and want to argue for what I will call the “complete inerrancy” doctrine. Some prefer that we use the word “infallibility,” which comes from the Latin infallibilitas, which means “the quality of neither deceiving nor being deceived.” “Inerrancy” comes from the Latin inerrantia, and simply means “free from error.” This means that the Scriptures do not state anything contrary to the facts. Together, the two words express the idea that all Scripture comes to us as the very word of God and is therefore trustworthy, true, and free from error.

All Scripture comes to us as the very word of God and is therefore reliable, true, and free from error.

How, then, should we define inerrancy? Consider these definitions of inerrancy, each of which makes an excellent contribution to our understanding of what is at stake:

“Inerrancy then means that at no time, as originally written, were the Biblical writers allowed to make statements or endorse views that are not in accordance with objective truth. This applies at whatever level they made statements” (Roger Nicole).

“Inerrancy means that when all the facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs, properly interpreted, will prove absolutely true in everything they affirm, whether it has to do with doctrine, or morality, or with the social, physical , or biological sciences” (Paul Feinberg).

When all the facts are known, the Bible (in its original writings), correctly interpreted in the light of what the culture and media had developed at the time of its composition, will be completely true (and therefore not true). false) in all that it affirms, to the degree of precision intended by the author, in all matters related to God and his creation” (David Dockery).

“Except for the kinds of textual corruption that can arise in the course of repeated copying, the Bible offers an accurate, though not exhaustive, description and interpretation of the world and of human history from creation to the rise of the Christian Church, as well as as well as a reliable record of divinely revealed truths about God and his plans for humanity, which careful exegesis can demonstrate to be internally consistent, and upon which, through fair and informed analysis, solutions can be suggested and found. plausible for fundamentally apparent conflicts between it and objective extra-biblical data” (Richard Schultz).

We now turn to ten things to keep in mind whenever we discuss the inerrancy of Scripture.

1. It is not a good objection to inerrancy that God used sinful and error-prone human beings in the process of writing

It is one thing to say that being human, we can make mistakes. It is another thing to say that we must make mistakes (see especially 2 Pet. 1:21). The doctrine of inerrancy, therefore, no more diminishes the humanity of Scripture than the deity of Christ diminishes the reality of his human flesh.

2. It is not a good objection to inerrancy that sometimes the Bible describes things as they appear, that is, phenomenologically, instead of as they really are.

We would be forced to admit error only if the Bible explicitly taught that things appear to be one way when in fact they are not, or if the Bible explicitly taught that things are only one way when in fact they are totally different. . But when the Bible says that an event appears in a particular way, that is, that it is a certain way to the naked eye and from the point of view of human observation, when in fact it is otherwise, it is not an error.

3. It is not a good objection to inerrancy that God frequently engages in human language and human experience in making known in Scripture his will and ways.

Similarly, it is not a good objection to inerrancy that the Bible contains metaphorical language. Some mistakenly believe that inerrancy requires that everything in the Bible be taken literally, such as saying that this doctrine means that God literally has wings, and that mountains literally jump for joy, etc. But the truth is frequently expressed in non-literal or figurative words, and in symbolic language.

Some mistakenly believe that inerrancy requires that everything in the Bible be taken literally, such as saying that this doctrine means that God literally has wings, and that mountains literally jump for joy.

4. Inerrancy is perfectly compatible with the Bible emphasizing certain concepts or doctrines more than others

Some have come to the unwarranted conclusion that since the Bible does not emphasize, say, geology, and then when it talks about geology, it is wrong. It is true that the statement: “Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Tim. 2:8) is more important than: “Erastus stayed in Corinth” (2 Tim. 4:20). But the lack of importance of the latter does not mean that it is false.

5. It is not a good objection to inerrancy that the authors of Scripture occasionally make grammar errors

A statement may have a grammatical error in its style, while it is entirely true in its content. As John Frame points out: “’I’m not going’, is to consider it less appropriate than ‘I’m not going’. But the meaning of both phrases is clear. They say the same thing, and both can express the truth” (The Doctrine of the Word of God, 175).

6. It is not a good objection to inerrancy that our interpretations of the Bible are not uniform

Explaining different interpretations should be the responsibility of the interpreter, not the text. The fact that I am a Creed-Baptist (only believers should be baptized), and one of my close friends is a Paedo-Baptist (he practices infant baptism), means that one of us is wrong, but it’s not that the scriptures are. Thus, inerrancy remains true even though the Bible is not everywhere equally clear. In other words, the inerrancy of Scripture does not guarantee its complete lucidity. Even the Apostle Peter acknowledged that the Apostle Paul wrote some “hard things to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16). But the complexity and difficulty of what Paul wrote does not mean that it is less true or less accurate than what Peter, Luke, or John wrote.

7. It is not a good objection to inerrancy that the Bible records lies and unethical actions

We must distinguish between what the Bible merely reports, and what it approves; between the descriptive authority and the normative authority.

8. It is not a good objection to inerrancy for NT authors to quote or allude to the OT with less verbal precision

We must be careful not to artificially impose twenty-first century literary norms on authors in the first century. Mateo, Marcos, Lucas, and Juan, for example, had never heard of Kate Turabian or The Chicago Manual of Style!

Related to the above is the fact that the authors of Scripture round or approximate numbers and measurements. Therefore, the alleged “inaccuracies” must be judged by the accepted standards of the cultural-historical context in which the author wrote, not by the scientific and computerized precision of 21st century technology. “The limits of veracity,” Grudem notes, “depend on the implied degree of precision by which he speaks, and what his original listeners expected” (Systematic Theology, 91). John Frame agrees, reminding us that “accuracy and truth are not synonymous, although they do overlap in meaning. A certain amount of precision is often required for truth, but that amount varies from context to context” (171).

For example, if you asked me how old I was when I wrote this paragraph, I would say: “67”. But that’s not accurate. She was literally 67 years, 1 month, 11 days, 7 hours, and 22 minutes old. Although I didn’t answer you accurately, I did answer you truthfully. Or if you wanted to know how far I live from my church office, it would be truthful to say, “10 miles,” even though the exact distance is 9.4. Thus, as Frames points out, inerrancy “means that the Bible is…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.