Topic Article #1: Inerrancy of the Bible
Concerning the Inerrancy of the Bible
by Dr. Eugene Clingman, Executive Administrator
Copyright 2006, International Church Council Project
(This article may be freely distributed so long as it is not altered
and this comment and the above information remains intact.)
Topic #1 of ICCP is “Concerning Biblical Inerrancy.” The ICCP theologians have written papers for the topics, but a few of the topics, including this one already had an historic document which ICCP adopted as the position paper for that topic. The position paper adopted for this topic is “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” This document was fashioned by a team of conservative theologians, and then signed by over 300 noted evangelicals, including James Boice, Norman L. Geisler, John Gerstner, Jay Grimstead, Carl F. H. Henry, Kenneth Kantzer, Harold Lindsell, John Warwick Montgomery, Roger Nicole, J. I. Packer, Robert Preus, Earl Radmacher, Francis Schaeffer, R. C. Sproul, and John Wenham. It has become a standard statement of this doctrine in conservative denominations, and is used to teach and strengthen the truth of inerrancy in seminaries and Christian colleges that remain true to the Bible.
The Preface to The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy reads in part, “The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God’s written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.”
Inerrancy has to do with the same question asked of our first parents, “Has God said?” The serpent was not asking whether God spoke, but rather was questioning the trustworthiness of the words spoken. There are those within the evangelical world who acknowledge that God has indeed spoken, but question the trustworthiness of the Bible which is the medium by which he has spoken. They say the Bible contains the “word of God” but also contains errors. Say they, one must be careful to discover what parts of the Bible are the word of God, for many portions contain errors and misleading information.
What does this imply? It implies that most of you reading this article are not capable of reading the Bible yourself and discerning God’s voice. Specialists are needed, say they, to ferret out the true from the false. Of course, they are happy also to designate themselves among those specialists who are ready to decipher the “word of God” for you.
J. Greshem Machen, in his book, Christianity and Liberalism, says, “…the Christian movement at its inception was…a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts.” If the facts in the Bible are in doubt (as those who are opposed to inerrancy say), the message also is in doubt. If the message is in doubt, there is no solid place to base our faith. Faith then is in doubt, Christianity is in doubt. We are on a slippery slope, and the next generation will drift yet further from truth.
Many within the Church today, pastors and people, believe the Bible contains errors (that it is not inerrant) – some do this out of ignorance, others with full knowledge. Whether purposeful or ignorant, doubts about the Bible lead to instability, and inability to know what God has indeed said. True teaching cannot be extracted from the Bible, for it is impossible to know what is true. Neither can we be assured that the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 can be trusted – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” If the Bible contains errors, we do not really know whether we should obey this, because the very presence of these words in the Bible may be one of the errors the Bible contains.
The only reasonable, sane place to stand regarding the Bible is to believe what the Bible declares of itself – that God, who is truth, and who invented language, communicated to us in language by the Bible. And because he is truth, he has communicated to us truth, in the Bible, uncontaminated by falsehoods or error. The Bible is inerrant and we can trust it.
ICCP is a cross-denominational effort calling the Body of Christ to international council around twenty Christian truths in which there is gross compromise or significant confusion. Please join us by prayer and finances as we serve to “rebuild the walls” and “restore paths in which to dwell” (Isaiah 58:12). You may make a donation at www.ChurchCouncil.org.
Free eBook: Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible by Vern Poythress