Thursday, March 16, 2017

Is the Inerrancy of the Bible Important?

Some folks have a modicum of respect for the Bible even if they do not actually believe it. To call it the "good book" and pick out various words of wisdom is to miss the important fact that the Bible makes serious claims about itself: it is the inerrant written Word of God. What does that mean?

When investigating the statements of faith from various churches and ministries, there are some phrases about the Bible that seem a mite baffling. Expressions like verbal plenary and inspiration stand out. The first one is expensive talk for the whole of Scripture, every word, is given by God. Inspiration is a horse of a different color, because we use that word to mean several different things. Some folks say that the Bible was "inspired" the way an essayist or even a skilled fiction writers is inspired. In the Bible, it is the Greek word θεόπνευστος, theopneustos (pronounced thay-ah-noo-stahs) that many versions translate as inspired, but is more correctly rendered God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16 NIV), the World English Bible also translates it this way. Another important verse is 2 Peter 1:21 ESV, which tells us that men were carried along by the Holy Spirit (often translated as moved).

The Bible, George Harvey, 1845
These two verses are part of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. We do not have the original "autographs" (documents) that are inerrant, but are confident that the Bible we have is extremely close to what was originally given by God. There are minor errors in translation and copying, but textual criticism assures us that the major translations are quite reliable.

Do the terms God-breathed and carried along mean that the writers of Scripture took dictation directly from God? No, their personalities are evident in their writings, but the Spirit did not allow them to include errors. Pay attention here: the "errors" that are in the Bible are not errors of the Bible. That is, Scripture records when people lied, cheated, stole, committed adultery, and other things — the Bible is accurate history.

If we cannot trust the Bible to be given by God, we are in trouble as to what we can choose to be accurate. There are many reasons to believe in the important doctrine of inerrancy.
“You don’t really believe the Bible is true, do you?”

The shock expressed by those who discover someone who actually believes the Bible to be without error is often quite amusing. Inevitably, their next question takes us right back to Genesis. But what does the Christian mean by “without error,” and why are we so sure?
To read the rest, click on "Why Should We Believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture?"