Weekly Bible Study
Tuesday 23rd June 2020
THE INERRANCY OF THE SCRIPTURE
Text: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We have emphasized that to disbelieve or disobey any word in Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. Therefore, all the words in Scripture are claimed to be completely true and without error in any part “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should repent” (Num. 23:19)
The inerrancy of Scripture means that the Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. It must be recognized that absolute truthfulness in speech is consistent with some other types of statements, such as the following:
1. The Bible Can Be Inerrant and Still Speak in the Ordinary Language of Everyday Speech. This is especially true in “scientific” or “historical” descriptions of facts or events. The Bible can speak of the sun rising and the rain falling because from the perspective of the speaker this is exactly what happens. From the standpoint of an observer standing on the sun (were that possible) or on some hypothetical “fixed” point in space, the earth rotates and brings the sun into view, and rain does not fall downward but upward or sideways or whatever direction necessary for it to be drawn by gravity toward the surface of the earth.
From the standpoint of the speaker, the sun does rise and the rain does fall, and these are perfectly true descriptions of the natural phenomena the speaker observes. In a similar way, biblical statements can be imprecise and still be totally true. Inerrancy has to do with truthfulness, not with the degree of precision with which events are reported.
2. The Bible Can Be Inerrant and Still Include Loose or Free Quotations. The method by which one person quotes the words of another person is a procedure that in large part varies from culture to culture. Thus, inerrancy is consistent with loose or free quotations of the Old Testament or of the words of Jesus, for example, so long as the content is not false to what was originally stated. The original writer did not ordinarily imply that he was using the exact words of the speaker and only those, nor did the original hearers expect verbatim quotation in such reporting.
3. The Bible can be Inerrant and Still Have Unusual or Uncommon Grammatical Constructions. Some of the language of Scripture is elegant and stylistically excellent. Other scriptural writings contain the rough-hewn language of ordinary people. At times this includes a failure to follow the commonly accepted “rules” of grammatical expression (such as the use of a plural verb where grammatical rules would require a singular verb, or the use of a feminine adjective where a masculine one would be expected, or different spelling for a word than the one commonly used, etc.).
These stylistically or grammatically irregular statements (which are especially found in the book of Revelation) should not trouble us, for they do not affect the truthfulness of the statements under consideration: a statement can be ungrammatical but still be entirely true. For example, an uneducated blackwood man in some rural area may be the most trusted man in the county even though his grammar is poor, because he has earned a reputation for never telling a lie. Similarly, there are a few statements in Scripture (in the original languages) that are ungrammatical (according to current standards of proper grammar at that time) but still inerrant because they are completely true. The issue is truthfulness in speech.
Problems With Denying Inerrancy
1. If We Deny Inerrancy, then we have a serious moral problem. This could exert strong pressure on us to begin to speak untruthfully in situations where that might seem to help us communicate better, and so forth.
2. If Inerrancy Is Denied, We Begin to Wonder If We Can Really Trust God in Anything He Says. Once we become convinced that God has spoken falsely to us in some minor matters in Scripture, then we realize that God is capable of speaking falsely to us. This will have a detrimental effect on our ability to take God at his word and trust him completely or obey him fully in the rest of Scripture.
3. If We Deny Inerrancy, We Essentially Make Our Own Human Minds a Higher Standard of Truth Than God’s Word Itself. We use our minds to pass judgment on some sections of God’s Word and pronounce them to be in error. But this is in effect to say that we know truth more certainly and more accurately than God’s Word does (or than God does), at least in these areas. Such a procedure, making our own minds to be a higher standard of truth than God’s Word, is the root of all intellectual sin.
4. If We Deny Inerrancy, Then We Must Also Say That the Bible Is Wrong Not Only in Minor Details but in Some of Its Doctrines as Well. A denial of inerrancy means that we say that the Bible’s teaching about the nature of Scripture and about the truthfulness and reliability of God’s words is also false