The Doctrine of InerrancyLecture 13a Let’s examine your knowledge of inerrancy: * What is inerrancy? * To what extent is the Bible inerrant? * Can you prove it?
The Doctrine of InerrancyLecture 13d The Bible is the only book that both claims and proves to be the Word of God. It claims to be written by prophets of God who recorded in their own style and language exactly the message God wanted to give to humankind. The writings of the prophets and apostles claim to be the unbreakable, imperishable, and inerrant words of God. The evidence that their writings are what they claimed to be is found not only in their own moral character but in the supernatural confirmation of their message, its prophetic accuracy, its amazing unity, its transforming power, and the testimony of Jesus who was confirmed to be the Son of God. ~ Dr. Norman Geisler, Baker’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics
Respond to this Argument: 1. Jesus was a human being. 2. Humans beings sin. 3. Therefore, Jesus sinned.
Respond to this Argument: 1. The Bible is a human book. 2. Humans err. 3. Therefore, the Bible errs.
Respond to this Argument: The mistake is to assume that Jesus is simply human. Mere human beings sin. But, Jesus was not a mere human being. He was also God. Likewise, the Bible is not merely a human book; it is also the Word of God. Like Jesus, it has divine elements that negate the statement that anything human errs. They are divine and cannot err. There can no more be an error in God’s written Word than there was a sin in God’s living Word.
Consider…can the Bible be infallible but not inerrant? “The Bible is infallible, as I define that term, but not inerrant. There are historical and scientific errors in the Bible, but I have found none on matters of faith practice.” Robert S. Alley, “Some Theologians Question Factual Truth of Gospels, The Richmond News Leader, 17 July 1978, 1.
Consider…can the Bible be infallible but not inerrant? The Lausanne Covenant declared the Bible to be “inerrant in all that it affirms.” The phrase is flexible, since it may allow for errors in areas like Creation, where, according some interpreters, the Bible is not affirming historical facts.
Consider these Questions… What is error? Can the Bible use approximations and still be without error? Can a New Testament writer quote freely from the Old Testament and claim that the resultant quotation is without error? Can a biblical writer use the language of appearances without communicating error? Can there exist different accounts of the same event without involving error? If the Scripture includes approximations, free quotations, language of appearances, different accounts of the same occurrence, can that type of data support a definition of inerrancy as “being without error”?
I. Definition of Inerrancy • Inerrancy is the doctrine that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original manuscripts and accurately interpreted is totally true and without error, whether cultural, doctrine, ethics, geography, social, physical, or life sciences.
Definitions of Inerrancy: “the inerrancy of the Bible means simply that the Bible tells the truth. Truth can and does include approximations, free quotations, language of appearances, and different accounts of the same event as long as these do not contradict.” ~ Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, 93. ~
The Doctrine of Inerrancy • Arguments for Inerrancy A. Deductive Biblical Support 1. God’s character 2. Scriptural Claims B. Correspondence (Prophets & Messages) C. Jesus’ Use of Scripture D. Historical Support in Church History E. Epistemological Support F. Slipper Slope Argument
A. Deductive Biblical Support for Inerrancy: • God cannot err (God’s Character): • Logically, the argument is valid. So, if the premises are true, the conclusion is also true. • If an infinitely-perfect God exists, then the first premise is true.” • Heb. 6:18: “it is impossible for God to lie.” • 2 Tim. 2:13: “He is a God who, even if we are faithless, “remains faithful; he cannot deny himself” • John 17:17: Jesus said to the Father, “Your word is truth.” • Psalm 119:60: “The entirety of Your word is truth.”
A. Deductive Arguments: • The Bible is the Word of God (Scriptural Claims): • Jesus, who is God referred to the O.T. as the “Word of God” which “cannot be broken” (John 10:35). • Jesus said, “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18). • Paul says, “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). • Scripture is from “out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). • Although human authors recorded the messages, “prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20).”
A. Deductive Arguments: • The Bible is the Word of God. • Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day, “You nullify the word of God by your tradition” (Mark 7:13). Jesus turned their attention to the written Word of God by affirming over and over again, “It is written” (e.g., Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). • This phrase occurs more than 90 times in N.T., a strong indicator of divine authority.
A. Deductive Arguments: • The Bible is the Word of God. • Paul referred to Scripture as “the word of God (Rom. 9:6).” • Author of Hebrews declared that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
A. Deductive Arguments: • Therefore, the Bible Cannot Error. • If God cannot err and if the Bible is the Word of God, then the Bible cannot err. • “The God of truth has given us the Word of truth, and it does not contain any untruth.” Dr. Norman Geisler, 74.
I. Support for Inerrancy: B. Correspondence (prophets and truth): 1. Deut. 13:1-5; 18:20-22: Israel is given criteria for distinguishing God’s message and messenger from false prophecies and prophets. 2. One mark of a divine message is total and absolute truthfulness. 3. A valid parallel can be made between the prophet and the Bible. The prophet’s word was usually oral, although it might be recorded and included in a book; the writers of Scripture communicated God’s Word in written form. Both were instruments of divine communication, and in both cases the human element was an essential ingredient.
I. Support for Inerrancy: C. Christ’s Use of Scripture: 1. Jesus rests an entire argument on a single word (e.g., John 10:34-35); 2. The tense of a verb (the pres. tense in Matt. 22:32). 3. Precision of words as spelled and in detail (Matt. 5:17-18) If the Bible’s inerrancy does not extend to every detail, these arguments lose their force. Moreover, should I have a lower view of Scripture than Jesus Christ?
I. Support for Inerrancy: C. Christ’s Use of Scripture: 1. Jesus rests an entire argument on a single word (e.g., John 10:34-35): a. Jesus endorses written propositional statements, not merely concepts, thoughts, or oral tradition.
I. Support for Inerrancy: C. Christ’s Use of Scripture: 2. The tense of a verb (Matt. 22:32; Exod. 3:6): a. Jesus assumes the historicity of God’s appearance to Moses. b. Jesus assumes that God’s revelation came in a propositional statement. C. He assumes that every word could be trusted to be precisely accurate. D. He assumes that doctrinal truth has to be based on historical accuracy. E. He assumes that one could use even unlikely passages and trust their accuracy.
I. Support for Inerrancy: C. Christ’s Use of Scripture: 3. Precision of words as spelled and in detail (Matt. 5:17-18): a. Single letters change words. b. A tittle is even more minute than a jot. b. Jesus promised that not one jot would fail. Every promise will be fulfilled just as it was spelled out. c. Promises involve more than just faith.
I. Support for Inerrancy: D. Historical Support from Church History: 1. It has been the view of the church in every period of its history. St. Augustine: “I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely from error.”
I. Support for Inerrancy: D. Historical Support from Church History: 1. It has been the view of the church in every period of its history. Martin Luther: “But everyone, indeed, knows that at times they [the Fathers] have erred as men will; therefore I am ready to trust them only when they prove their opinions from Scripture, which has never erred.”
I. Support for Inerrancy: D. Historical Support from Church History: 1. It has been the view of the church in every period of its history. John Calvin: “The Spirit of God…appears purposely to have regulated their style in such a manner, that they all wrote one and the same history, with the most perfect agreement, but in different ways.”
I. Support for Inerrancy: D. Historical Support from Church History: 1. It has been the view of the church in every period of its history. John Wesley: “”Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible there may well be a thousand. If there is one falsehood in that Book it did not come from the God of truth” (Journal VI. 117).
I. Support for Inerrancy: E. Epistemological Argument: 1. Epistemology is the discipline that is concerned with how we know that we know something to be true. 2. This argument has been formulated in at least two distinct ways:
I. Support for Inerrancy: E. Epistemological Argument: a. For some, knowledge claims must, to be justified, be indubitable or incorrigible (beyond doubt and question). - It is not enough that a belief is true and is believed on good grounds. It must be beyond doubt and question. - For such an epistemology, inerrancy is essential. - Inerrancy guarantees the incorrigibility of every statement of Scripture. - Therefore, the contents of Scripture can be objects of knowledge.
I. Support for Inerrancy: E. Epistemological Argument: b. For some, knowledge claims do not require such a high standard of certitude as indubitability to have inerrancy: - If the Bible is not inerrant, then any claim it makes is false. - This means not that all claims are false, but that some might be. - But so much of the Bible is beyond direct verification. Therefore only its inerrancy assures the knower that his or her claim is justified.
I. Support for Inerrancy: F. Slipper Slope Argument: If the Bible contains some errors, however few or many, how can we be sure that the teaching on Christ, the Trinity, sin, salvation, adultery, homosexuality, etc. is correct? An errant approach opens the door of suspicion on other portions and teachings of Scripture:
I. Support for Inerrancy: G. Manuscript Evidence: We have more manuscripts than any other work or collection of ancient antiquity. We now have approx. 6,000 manuscripts. For example: we have 7 copies of Plato’s work compared to 6,000 N.T. manuscripts. Moreover, we have more copies closer to the original than any other work of antiquity. Finally, we have 99% accurately copied as opposed to any other work. Whose history can we better trust?
1. COMPARISON OF ANCIENT MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE: Author Book Date Written Earliest Copies Time Gap # Copies: Homer Iliad 800 B.C. C. 400 B.C 400 yrs. 643 Herodotus History 480-425 B.C. C. A.D. 900 1,350 yrs. 8 Thucydides History 460-400 B.C. C. A.D. 900 1,350 yrs. 8 Plato 400 B.C. C. A.D. 900 1,300 yrs. 8 Demosthenes 300 B.C. C. A.D. 1100 1,400 yrs. 7 Caesar Gallic 100-44 B.C. C. A.D. 900 1,000 yrs. 200 Wars Livy History 59 B.C.-A.D. 17 C. 4th cent. 400 yrs. 1 partial of Rome (partial); mostly 10th Century 1,000 yrs. 19 Tacitus Annals A.D. 100 C. A.D. 1100 1,000 yrs. 20 Pliny Secundus Natural A.D. 61-113 C. A.D. 850 750 yrs. 7 History New Testament A.D. 50-96 C. 114 (fragment) + 50 years 5,700+ C. 200 (books) 100 years C. 250 (most N.T.) 150 years C. 325 (complete N.T.) 225 years “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament.” ~ F. F. Bruce
2. EARLY PATRISTIC QUOTATIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: WRITER: Gospels Acts P. Epistles G. Epistles Rev. Total: Justin 268 10 43 6 3 330 Martyr Ireneaus 1,038 194 499 23 65 1,819 Origen 9,231 349 7,778 399 165 17,992 Tertullian 3,822 502 2,609 120 205 7,258 Hippolytus 734 42 387 27 188 1,378 Eusebius 3,258 211 1, 592 88 27 5,176 TOTALS: 19,368 1,352 14,035 870 664 36,289
I. Support for Inerrancy: 3. Does the Gospels Pass Atheist’s David Hume’s Criteria for Determining Document Reliability: A. Do the witnesses contradict each other? B. Are there a sufficient number of witnesses? C. Were the witnesses truthful? D. Were they non-prejudicial? (e.g., Consider Saul who was opposed but became Paul through evidence; Thomas who doubted but touched the evidence; scared apostles transformed into bold evangelists). Thus, according to the historiographical criteria of David Hume, the N.T. is reliable.
I. Support for Inerrancy: G. What about not having the original manuscripts?: It doesn’t matter that we have the originals; God preserved it in copies to keep people from: 1. Worshipping the Originals; 2. Possible manipulative distortion; 3. Potential authoritative exclusivity. God preserved the Originals in the copies!
I. Support for Inerrancy: • Manuscript Evidence: If we doubt the Bible, we doubt history for any record of any event. Consider the sources apart from the Bible itself: 1. Writers outside of the Bible: a. Papias (A.D. 130) records sayings of John’s remarks regarding Mark being the interpreter for Peter. Papias also comments on Matthew: “Matthew recorded the oracles in the Hebrew (i.e., Aramaic) tongue.”
I. Support for Inerrancy: • Manuscript Evidence: b. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) was a student of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John stated: “So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavours to establish his own particular doctrine” (Against Heresies, III).”
I. Support for Inerrancy: • Manuscript Evidence: c. Clement of Rome (C. A.D. 95) used Scripture as a reliable and authentic source. d. Ignatius (A.D. 70-110), a disciple of Polycarp, he knew all the apostles and was a disciple, gave credence to the Scripture to the extent that he was martyred for it. e. Polycarp (A.D. 70-156) was a disciple of John who succumbed to martyrdom at 86 yeas of age for his devout devotion to Christ and Scripture.
I. Conclusion: “If Inspired, Then inerrant. Inerrancy is a logical result of inspiration. Inerrancy means “wholly true and without error.” And what God breathes out (inspires) must be wholly true (inerrant).” Dr. Norman Geisler, 75.