Thoughts of a Country Preacher

The Monday morning ruminations of a pastor.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I believe that the best definition of Inerrancy has come from Paige Patterson who writes that: "By inerrancy, we mean that the scriptures, in the autographs, contain no error in the fields it discusses, philosophically, historically, scientifically, spiritually, and theologically."

Sadly, there are many within our churches who would deny the inerrancy of the bible, usually based upon one of the following arguments (or one of their derivatives). I will try to quickly address them here.

1 – The Bible does not claim inerrancy, nor is the term found in the Bible. Instead modern scholars have forced this term upon the Bible.

First, the Bible does claim to be inerrant.

2 Peter 1:16-21 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased "-- 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Second, the fact that the bible does not use the specific word "inerrant" to describe itself is not relevant. The term trinity is also not found in the Bible, but we know that it is true because it is used to describe a theology based on a wide sample of scripture.
Equally, the term inerrancy is also true because it too is used to describe a theology based on a wide sample of scripture.

2 – Inerrancy cannot be proven because we do not possess the original autographs.
This too is not a valid argument against the doctrine of inerrancy.

Think of it this way.

Sitting in the Smithsonian, there is a one of a kind artifact. It is just a simple metal rod. That metal rod is exactly one foot long. In fact, for the United States, that metal bar is the official measure of a foot. Now, what would happen if say, a janitor accidentally threw this bar out with the trash? Could we never again know what a foot was?

Not at all.

That’s because we could go to the local hardware store, buy a yardstick, a surveyor’s measure, a grade school ruler, compare them together, and we will come up with a foot.
It is true that we do not have the original autographs. We do however have literally millions of copies and fragments, some of which date to just a few years after the originals were written. Through diligent study of these sources, we can know that the current published scholarly texts of the Hebrew OT & the Greek NT are essentially the same as the original manuscripts.

3 – There are errors and/or contradictions in the Bible.
Usually this argument focuses on 3 main ideas

The 2 accounts of creation in Genesis – This is a literary device common when Genesis was written. See Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict for a complete explanation.

Contradictions – such as what is seen in the account of Sisera’s death (Josh 4), and Deborah’s song of his death (Josh 5). The differences between these accounts are minute, but worth discussing.
Both of these accounts are true. How is this possible? We must take the context of these passages into account. The account of Sisera’s death in Josh. 4 is the forensic, historical account of his death, and should be interpreted accordingly. Deborah’s song is a highly stylized account, poetical account, and should be interpreted accordingly. These two accounts can only be seen as contradictory when they are taken out of context and their respective genres are ignored.

The words of Satan – personally, I like this one. The argument is that the Bible records the words of Satan, words that are deliberate lies, therefore, the Bible does indeed contain lies.
This is a good point; the Bible does not whitewash history. It tells us of Noah’s righteousness, and his drunkenness. It tells us of Abraham’s integrity, and his lies. It tells us of David’s hunger after God and his sin against God. And yes, the Bible does record the words of Satan.
But this does not invalidate the Bible’s inerrancy. The Bible records the words of Satan accurately and perfectly, therefore maintaining the inerrancy of the Bible. While the Bible does perfectly record the words of Satan, it does not attribute truth to them. Quite to the contrary, the Bible goes out of its way to show us that his words are lies.

I realize that this is a very basic discussion of inerrancy. I have tried to do my best, but given the size of the doctrine, there really is no way to cover it in its entirety in one blog posting. But I do hope that this will serve as a primer for our future study.


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