Bible Inerrancy

God’s Word is Perfect

As we look back into history, the great theologians and Bible teachers of the past didn’t address themselves to the problem of inerrancy because inerrancy was assumed. But that has all changed. Today, the issue of inerrancy is one of the most important questions currently faced by Christians.

According to a contemporary scholar, James Montgomery Boice, “Inerrancy states that what is inspired is also authoritative.” Historically, Christians have believed in verbal inspiration, that every word of the Bible as it was originally given, in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, is inspired by God. By this they have assumed that every word was therefore accurate and authoritative, as the author meant it to be. The Bible is not deceitful or fraudulent.

Today, some people are wavering, teaching that the Bible is inspired but that the part of Scripture which speaks of geography, history, and creation may not be accurate. Some critics suggest the Bible is inspired and accurate in matters relating to God and doctrine, but when the Bible speaks on science, it contains scientific inaccuracies. There are many good reasons to reject this suggestion.

The Bible Teaches Inerrancy

Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). Peter claimed,

“Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21). When New Testament writers quoted from the Old Testament, they considered they were quoting God. This is seen in one of the prayers of the early church. ‘Lord, thou art God, who hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; who by the mouth of thy servant, David, has said. . . ” (Acts 4:24, 25). The writer to the Hebrews wrote, “As the Holy Spirit said. . . ” (Heb. 3:7) and then went on to quote David.

Even while some New Testament books were being written, other New Testament books were already recognized as Scripture. Peter wrote, “Even as our beloved Paul … hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:15, 16). Peter classified Paul’s writings with the other Scriptures and in fact was saying Paul’s writings are Scripture.

Jesus testified to Biblical Inerrancy

Jesus used the Bible authoritatively during his ministry. When he was tempted by Satan to sin, three times he said, “It is written” (Matt. 4:1-11). He appealed to the Scriptures to defend his actions (Matt. 26:54-56; Mark 11:15-17). He claimed the “Scriptures cannot be broken” (John 10:34, 35). What he was saying was that “the Scriptures cannot be treated as if events never happened.”

Jesus Believed Every Letter of Scripture was Accurate.

He taught “till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18).

Most of the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew.

The yod was the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Caph and beth are very similar letters, distinguished only by an extended line at the base of the letter beth. Many Bible commentators believe that Jesus was referring to these letters when he said not one “jot or tittle” would change a letter in the Hebrew alphabet much less a word. As far as Jesus was concerned, even the smallest letter of the alphabet or an otherwise insignificant mark distinguishing two letters “shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.”

Had the Bible been originally written in English, Jesus might have said “not one dot over an i or one crossing of the t would pass from the law.” Jesus obviously believed in inerrancy.

In Exodus 3:6, God is recorded as saying, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Yet, these three men were dead when Moses heard this message from God. Jesus argued on the basis of the tense of the verb when he confronted the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection or life beyond the grave. Here Jesus said, “God is,” not “God was.”

Even though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead when God spoke to Moses, they had not ceased to exist. “God is their God because they are alive with him.” For Jesus, not only the spelling of the words but the tenses of the verbs were important and inerrant in the Scripture.

The Apostles Believed in Inerrancy.

Paul had no question but that he was proclaiming the Word of God as he wrote. He told the Corinthians, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). John referred to his writings as “the record that God gave of his Son” (i John 5:10).

Concerning the Old Testament authors, Peter wrote, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12).

The Writers of the New Testament claimed to be speaking by the Holy Spirit.

This was in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to his disciples that “the Holy Ghost … shall teach you all things” (John 14:26). When these men wrote, they were aware that they were speaking God’s message, not that which they had themselves developed (Acts 2:4; 4:3, 31; 13:9; Gal. 1:1, 12; 1 Thess. 2:13; 4:28; Rev. 21:5; 22:6, 18, 19).

The Character of God Demands Inerrancy

The real issue of inerrancy is centered in the character of God. Some who deny inerrancy will eagerly point out that the Bible is God’s revelation, but they do not necessarily believe the Bible is completely accurate. But we recognize the Bible comes from God, and the perfect nature of God would make it impossible for him to write a book that was not perfect. God, because he is God, could not have produced other than an inerrant revelation of himself. If a choice is to be made, the Bible says,

Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). Twice the Bible says it is impossible for God to lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18). The divine attribute of truth is also ascribed to the Bible (Ps. 119:160; John 17:17).

The argument against inerrancy today states, “God inspired the Scriptures but he included some things he knew were wrong because the people of that time thought they were right.” There were times when God responded on the basis of man’s understanding of nature. When Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stand still (Josh. 10:12), he evidently didn’t understand what caused the sun and moon to move across the sky.

Obviously, it was the earth’s turning that God stopped, which gave the appearance of the sun and moon standing still, to give Joshua a longer day to finish the battle. But this accommodation of God to man’s understanding in no way lessens the inerrancy of God’s Word.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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