Living Theology #4 – Inerrancy

by Garrett Glende

Having looked at the doctrine of the authority of Scripture last week, we’ll now deal with a related issue, inerrancy. Grudem defines the inerrancy of Scripture to be the fact that “Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is false.” This idea is closely tied to the reality of Scripture being fully God’s word and authoritative. Were it not for the inspiration of Scripture, then there would be no basis to say that it is inerrant, for we would not be able to point to the truthfulness of God to defend its veracity. If the Bible has been written by mere men, then its words attesting to its authority hold no weight. However, we know that God has indeed inspired men to write down His word and we can say with confidence that all of His word is true.

There is often much misunderstanding about the specifics of inerrancy. It is many times confused with the word “infallibility,” which implies a less strict standard of truthfulness. While infallibility claims that all of Scripture pertaining only to “faith and practice” is true, inerrancy goes further, saying that the Bible speaks truthfully on all matters including faith and practice along with historical accounts. Proponents of inerrancy argue that the Bible does not limit itself in the extent of its truthfulness. Grudem points out that there are places in the New Testament where the author regards the smaller details of the Old Testament to be reliable, such as in Acts 24:14 where Paul claims to “worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets.” Everything in the Old Testament was written to be meaningful to us, according to Romans 15:4 where Paul writes, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” This includes even the smallest details that may not seem to matter much to us. From this evidence, we can come to a conclusion that the Bible speaks truth on all subjects that it speaks of. Inerrancy does not mean that the Bible is a complete source of knowledge to everything one would want to know. It will not teach you calculus. However, all knowledge that is included in Scripture is fully trustworthy.

The practical applications of this doctrine are similar to that of the authority of Scripture, following the line of thought that says we should submit to the Bible because it is authoritative and true. However, while we’re on the topic of the inherent truthfulness of Scripture, it seems appropriate to comment on an unsettling trend emerging (pun not intended) in today’s culture. More than ever, the idea of truth itself is being attacked and the idea that one can discover absolute truth in the Bible is seen as arrogant and intolerant. In my own experiences evangelizing on campus at UCSD I’ve found that many in my generation admire the tenets of religious pluralism, attempting to be welcoming to all beliefs, meanwhile sacrificing intellectual integrity. However, this mindset, although it may seem pleasant and gracious on the outside, often leads to a general apathy towards ultimate truth or an inconsistency in thought. “I accept all beliefs except those which contradict my own,” is essentially the attitude. Indeed, tolerance abounds. I’ve spoken to many students who, after hearing the gospel, simply say that “what is true for you works for you and what is true for me works for me.” To assert that there is no absolute truth is indeed a propositional truth claim. This seems to me to be an incredibly lazy and irresponsible outlook to have in dealing with concepts of such magnitude. The reality of it all is that the Bible is true for all people. Christ’s Lordship is not limited to those who believe that He is Lord. He is Savior of all the nations and there will be a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11).

On a more personal level, as we’ve been studying what it means to worship God in spirit and truth on Sundays, consider that the entire Bible is the truth of God. Jesus prays to the Father in John 17:17, asking that He “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” We must worship God in light of the truth that He has revealed to us through His word. Since all of Scripture relates to us different truths about God, then we should study every part of it in order to worship God for all that He is. There are wonderful, sanctifying truths found in the crispy section of our Bibles, but do we even turn there? In putting aside these parts of Scripture we are inhibiting our own growth in holiness and limiting the source of truth that leads to our worship. The flow is simple: we must worship God in truth (John 4:23-24); God’s word is truth (John 17:17); all Scripture is God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16); and Scripture shows God to be holy, just, omniscient, loving, and merciful, so we worship Him because of these truths. We would do well to consider the inerrancy of Scripture in light of our own personal worship, as it should lead us to desire to praise God for all that is revealed to be true about Him.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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