The Inerrancy of Scripture
That which enforces a rule would be called an authority. Authority is something which requires power in order to enforce a rule or precept. For the Scripture to be authoritative as the Word of God, it must have the power to support its claim. Now, there can be no doubt that the Scripture claims to be the authoritative Word of God (Phillips, 1986, p 47). The question that rightfully follows to this claim concerns the power which supports this claim. The answer lies in the inerrancy of Scripture. Moreover, the inerrancy of Scripture is concerned also with the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible. Therefore, the intent of this paper is to defend the inerrancy of Scripture in its plurality of aspects.
The Totality of Inerrancy
Knowing the intent behind the term inerrancy is important when applying it to Scripture. Accordingly, when one speaks of the inerrancy of Scripture he is saying more than that the Scripture is inerrant, but he is also saying that it is inspired and infallible. Norman Geisler stated that inerrancy, inspiration, and infallibility are all related terms (Geisler, 2011, p 369). Thus, to fully understand what is meant by inerrancy, the meanings of the terms inspiration and infallibility must also be examined.
The term inerrancy means that the Bible is true in all that it affirms (Groothuis, 2011, p 270). Each teaching and doctrine of Scripture which is given is without error. Indeed, there is no contradiction to be found in the writings of Scripture. Moreover, different schools of criticism do affirm the inerrancy of Scripture to be true. Thus, textual and literary criticism shall be examined.
The Old Testament can be trusted to be due to its literary nature. Its writings can be divided into three different types: theological or moral exposition, history and literature (Ryken, 1992, p 12). Truly, this is seen throughout the Old Testament. Examine the Decalogue given in Deuteronomy, and one will find an exposition of the Law of God. Its coverage is over civil, moral and ceremonial laws. A look at the books of history will give an accurate and trustworthy account of what took place in the history of Israel, as well as other nations mentioned in the Old Testament. Moreover, within the books of Psalms, the Song of Solomon, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes are found great literary works. Ecclesiastes examines a true philosophy of life (Geisler, 1977, p 215). The book of Psalms is an extensive hymnbook for worship, which contains selections for liturgical and sacramental acts (Lennox, 1999, p 14). Proverbs gives practical wisdom regarding the daily issues of living, and is a veritable guide for a successful life (McFadyen, 1905, p 257). Thus, the Old Testament can be trusted as a credible literary source.
The New Testament is supported by literary criticism (Ryken, 1992, p 355, 357), but it is also supported by textual criticism. Greenlee submitted three ways that the New Testament is supported by textual criticism (Greenlee, 1967, p 15. First, he stated that the New Testament was the most important piece of ancient literature. Second, he stated that the New Testament had an overwhelming amount of manuscripts available to examine. This is in comparison to other literary works of the ancient world. Finally, Greenlee proffered that the earliest dates of the manuscripts for the New Testament was closer to the date of the autographs than any other work of ancient literature. The summary of is that both the Old Testament and the New Testament are accurate due to two different schools of criticism. Thus, one can trust to the inerrancy of the Scripture.
The infallibility of Scripture deals with the authority and authenticity of Scripture (Harrison, 1960, p 284). First, the authenticity of Scripture would deal with aspects such as its accuracy. The Bible is more accurately copied than any other book (Cutchins, 2015, p 9). The New Testament alone has 99.9% accuracy in its transmission. Moreover, the Old and New Testaments have both been substantiated by archaeological findings, which shall be discussed later. Thus, one can trust in the authenticity and accuracy of Scripture. Second, the authority of the Word of God would concern itself with the Bible having absolute authority in matters of faith and practice (Horton, 2003, p 81). In other words, the Bible has complete authority in regards to the beliefs and standards of the believer. Whether it is a moral or ethical code, or the laws of science, Scripture has full authority over it. It is not a collection of suggestions, but an authoritative command of God as an examination of the Old Testament would show. Thus, the authority of Scripture is extended to everything regarding the life of mankind.
Many different theories concerning the inspiration of Scripture have been posited. However, the teaching that is found in Scripture is that the entirety of the Bible is inspired. Paul wrote that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Tim. 3:16, KJV). This teaching is called the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture. In its brevity, the doctrine of the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture teaches that holy men of old were moved on by the Holy Ghost to write what was written (II Pet. 1:21, KJV). In other words, the Holy Ghost moved on the writers of Scripture, but they still wrote what was given to them in their own style and words (Evans, 1939, p 210). Thus, the books of Scripture differ in writing style. Moreover, Inspiration includes what the Bible explicitly teaches and what it touches (Geisler, 2011, p 373). Simply because the Scripture does not mention drug addiction by name does not mean that it does not touch it. There can be no doubt that the Bible speaks of the human body as the temple as the Holy Ghost (I Cor. 6:19-20, KJV). Therefore, one can trust the Scripture to be inspired to what it touches along with what it teaches.
Defending the Inerrancy of Scripture
Since a foundation for inerrancy and that which is concerned therewith has been laid, a defense may now be presented. Though several directions may be taken to defend the inerrancy of Scripture, two shall be taken in this paper. First, there shall be a consideration of the archaeological validation of the inerrancy of Scripture. Second, there shall be an examination of the Scriptural claims for the inerrancy of Scripture. In doing so, sufficient evidence will be presented to defend the inerrancy of Scripture.
Archaeology has validated both the New and Old Testaments. Characters and events of both Testaments are recorded in the historical writings of ancient civilizations which in turn have been uncovered by archaeologists. Accordingly, archaeology validates the inerrancy of Scripture. Thus, the validation of both Testaments shall be examined.
Archaeology validates the inerrancy of Scripture. Several findings show this to be true. First, there is the mention of the Hittite civilization in Scripture, but no information could be found about the Hittites. This caused many people to question the accuracy of the Bible. However, Hittite civilization has now been discovered by archaeology, thereby vindicating the accuracy of the Old Testament (Adams, 1947, p 122). Second, the question of Sarah giving Hagar to Abraham has been defended by archaeology. Many today would consider this to be a taboo matter for a believer, which Scripture would substantiate (Tit. 1:6, KJV). However, when looking at Old Testament happenings one must remember that the culture and customs were different than those held by the modern western world. Thus, though the modern Church does not condone it, the Nuzu Tablets prove that it was customary in a childless couple for the wife to give a handmaid to her husband (Finegan, 1959, p 54-55). Finally, the Genesis account of the Flood has been supported by archaeology. The Babylonian account of a Deluge which was current in the time of Abraham and Hammurabi agrees with the Scriptural narration in Genesis (Adams, 1947, p 61, 63). Thus, one can trust the Old Testament as being accurate and infallible, and therefore inerrant.
Archaeology also supports the New Testament, both in historic writings and historic findings. First, historic writings show substantiate the lives of individuals mentioned in the Gospels. Jesus is mentioned in the writings of both Josephus and Tacitus as having lived and died ((Josephus, Vol. IV, 18, 3, 3; Tacitus, Annals 15, 44). Moreover, the life of John the Baptist who was a predecessor of Jesus is mentioned as being killed by Pilate (Josephus, Vol. IV, 5, 2). Thus, one can trust the inerrancy of Scripture due to historical writings. Secondly, one can trust the inerrancy of Scripture due to historic findings. Though there are many findings, only one shall be mentioned. Archaeological diggings in Antioch have found great Christian influence on the architecture there, such as spires and crosses as decoration. This is defense of the great church which is mentioned in Scripture as being in Antioch (Acts 11:26; 13:1, KJV). Thus, one can trust to the inerrancy of the New Testament due to historic findings.
Just as archaeology validates the inerrancy of Scripture in many ways, so also one can trust the inerrancy of Scripture due to the claims of Scripture itself. Along with the Scriptural claims it must be noted that those who do not believe in the theistic God of the Bible will not believe in the inerrant Word of God (Geisler & Roach, 2012). However, this does not mean that the Bible is not inerrant, simply that there are those who will not believe that the Bible is inerrant. Thus, the believer should understand the internal Scriptural claims of inerrancy, which help to defend its inerrancy.
Again, there is internal evidence in Scripture that defends the inerrancy of the Bible. First, there is the objective statement of Paul regarding the inspiration of the Scripture (II Tim. 3:16, KJV). The Greek word used here by Paul means God-breathed. Thus, the interpretation drawn is that the entire counsel of Scripture is breathed by God. It is from this verse that the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture is drawn and proven. Second, the Scripture defends its own inerrancy with internal evidence due to what it records. In other words, the Scripture defends its own inerrancy because of its own unprejudiced nature and explications (Phillips, 1986, p 48). The Scripture does not gloss over nor diminish sinful acts of men who led congregations and kingdoms in order to make individuals look better. Instead it simply records what happened or took place as the truth. Finally, because the Scripture is inspired by God, and is shown to be inerrant by internal evidence as well as archaeology, one can trust to the authority of Scripture. Man is to submit to the authority of the Bible because it is the inspired, inerrant Word of God (Berkhof, 1933, p 46). For one to reject the inerrancy and consequently the authority of God’s Word will lead to such a one falling into total apostasy (Phillips, 1986, p 50).
In conclusion, the inerrancy of Scripture is something which must be held as absolute from the Church. Such a stand will require that the Church understand the different aspects of inerrancy such as the infallibility and inspiration of Scripture. Moreover, the inerrancy of Scripture can be easily validated by both archaeological findings and the claims of Scripture. Thus, because the Scripture can be defended and proven to be inerrant it is the responsibility of the believer to accept and live accordingly.
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