Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

About Me

I am a young man who is following God's call into pastoral ministry. I have been so blessed with the privileges which the Lord has granted me. I am blessed to serve the Mt. Joy congregation in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I am constantly humbled and amazed at what the Lord is doing in my life.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Doctrine of Inerrancy-Part 2

In my last post, I provided a defense of the doctrine of inerrancy from the testimony of Scripture itself. What the Bible says on the matter really should settle any debate over this issue. However, due to the blindness of man towards the truth, many still deny the fact that God has communicated to us a message without any errors or misstatements. (Keep in mind that when we speak of inerrancy we are referring to the original autographs, the words directly written by the authors themselves, not necessarily the copies or translations of them.)In fact, some go so far to actually claim that the idea of the inerrancy of Scripture is a relatively new doctrine that arose out of the Fundamentalist-Liberal controversy of the early 19th century. A man recently made such a claim to me in response to something I had written in my denomination's magazine calling for the denomination to return to its roots of holding to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. But such a view actually must ignore the witness of history to stand. The following is a selective compilation of the church's position throughout the centuries in regard to the inerrancy of Scripture. (I refer to the list as "selective" because many more quotes could be added. These are just some of the strongest ones that I have found.) You will notice that this view cannot be said to be a "new" one in any way, shape, or form but has been taught throughout the ages. The church has been in agreement with the very book that serves at its authority. (Who would have guessed that?) Instead of giving a detailed argumentation of this, I will just let the voices of history speak for themselves. Without any further ado, here they are:

The Church Fathers
"You have searched the Scriptures, which are true, which were given by the Holy Spirit; you know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them." ~Clement of Rome

"the Scriptures are indeed perfect" ~Irenaeus

"The statements of Holy Scripture will never be discordant with truth" ~Tertullian

"all the prophets spoke harmoniously and in agreement with one another" ~Theophilus

"The Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and his Spirit" ~Irenaeus

"The sacred volumes are fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, and there is no passage either in the Law or the Gospel, or the writings of an Apostle, which does not proceed from the inspired source of Divine Truth." ~Origen

"It is the opinion of some that the Scriptures do not agree or that God who gave them is false. But there is no disagreement at all. Far from it! Neither can the Father, who is truth, lie; 'for it is impossible that God should lie' [Heb. 6:18]" ~Athanasius

"I have learned to yield this respect and honor only to the canonical books of Scripture. Of these alone do I most firmly believe that their authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to the truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it . . . Concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error." ~Augustine

"The Faith will totter if the authority of the Holy Scriptures loses its hold on men. We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled." ~Augustine

"Lord, surely your scripture is true, for you, being truthful and Truth itself, have produced it." ~Augustine

"When you are really instructed in the Divine Scriptures, and have realized that its laws and testimonies are the bonds of truth, then you can contend with adversaries; then you will fetter them and lead them bound into captivity; then of the foes you have made captive you will make freemen of God." ~Jerome

The Middle Ages
"For I am sure that if I say anything which is undoubtedly contradictory to holy Scripture, it is wrong; and if I become aware of such a contradiction, I do not wish to hold to that opinion." ~Anselm

"It is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Scripture." ~Thomas Aquinas

Peter Abelard who did question inerrancy, was a rare exception during this period.

The Reformers
"It is established by God's Word that God does not lie, nor does His Word lie." ~Martin Luther

"Natural reason produces heresy and error. Faith teaches and adheres to the pure truth. He who adheres to the Scriptures will find that they do not lie or deceive." ~Martin Luther

"The Scriptures have never erred." ~Martin Luther

The following are descriptions that John Calvin used for Scripture: "The sure and infallible record," "The inerring standard," "The pure Word of God," "The infallible rule of His Holy Truth," "Free from every stain or defect," "The inerring certainty," The certain and unerring rule," "Unerring light," "Infallible Word of God," "Has nothing belonging to man mixed with it," "Inviolable," and "Infallible oracles."

The Post-Reformers
"The canonical Holy Scriptures in the original text are the infallible truth and are free from every error; in other words, in the canonical sacred Scriptures there is found no lie, no falsity, no error, not even the least, whether in subject matter or expressions, but in all things and all the details that are handed down in them, they are most certainly true, whether they pertain to doctrines or morals, to history or chronology, to topography or nomenclature. No ignorance, no thoughtlessness, no forgetfulness, no lapse of memory can dare be ascribed to the amanuenses of the Holy Ghost in their penning of the Sacred Writings." ~John Andrew Quenstedt

"The sacred writers were so acted upon and inspired by the Holy Spirit (as to the things themselves and as to the words) as to be kept free from all error and . . . their writings are truly authentic and divine . . . The prophets did not fall into mistakes in those things which they wrote as inspired men (theopneustos [Greek for God breathed]) and as prophets, not even in the smallest particulars; otherwise faith in the whole of Scripture would be rendered doubtful." ~Francis Turretin

"Whereas, therefore, no one may say that any infirmity could befall the Holy Spirit, it follows that the sacred writers could not be deceived, or err, in any respect. Here, then, it becomes us to be so scrupulous as not to allow that any such slip can be found in scripture ... it is the special prerogative of scripture, that it never errs" ~William Whitaker

"The purity of Scripture lies in the fact that it stands complete in itself, without either deceit or error." ~William Perkins

"The Scriptures are evidence of their own divine authority as a human being is evident by the motions, behaviour and speech of a body of a human form and contexture, or that the body is animated by a rational mind. For we know no otherwise than by the consistency, harmony and concurrence of the train of actions and sounds, and their agreement to all that we can suppose to be a rational mind . . . So there is that wonderous universal harmony and consent and concurrence in the aim and drift, such as universal appearance of a wonderful, florious design, such stamps everywhere of exalted and divine wisdom, majesty, and holiness in matter, manner, contexture and aim, that the evidence is the same that the Scriptures are the word and work of a divine mind; to one that is thoroughly acquainted with them, as 'tis that the words and actions of an understanding man are from a rational mind, to one that is of a long time been his familiar acquaintance." ~Jonathan Edwards

Modern Period
It is here that things started to change and the doctrine of inerrancy began to be questioned and denied. Some historians have pointed out this to occur in the early seventeenth century. Up until this point, the church had almost universally been in agreement over the view that the Bible contained no errors in its original writings. Even the Roman Catholic and Protestant divide during the Reformation held common ground pertaining to this. Their disagreements stemmed more so over the authority of the Scriptures, the canonicity of the Apocrypha, and the sufficiency of Scripture. Since we can trace the departure from inerrancy during the 1600s into the modern era, it actually would be more accurate to say that the novel view is not that the Bible is inerrant but that it isn't. And the reason that so much more literature had been produced during the Fundamentalist-Liberal controversy would not have been because it was a new doctrine developing but since inerrancy had not been questioned as strongly as it had been then, thus providing the reason for issuing such a strong apologetic (a defense) for it.

Churches and groups today which deny the biblical doctrine of inerrancy should take note. In so doing they ignore the clear teachings of Scripture and find themselves outside the norm of a position that the church has consistently held since its start on the day of Pentecost. In fact, those who deny the doctrine of inerrancy actually agree with the devil over and against God. He serves as the first one to question the inerrancy of God's Word. His very first words recorded to us are: Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1). He questioned God's Word. Did God really say that? The question for you is whether or not you will say pertaining to Scripture "Thus said the Lord" or "Did God really say that?" There really is no other alternative. The Bible claims to be ALL God's Word. You either believe that claim as the church has or you question it as the devil does.

In Christ,
Sola Scriptura
Soli Deo Gloria

-Allison, Gregg R. Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.
-Covenant Protestant Reformed Church. "The Inerrancy of Scripture." URL:
-Gerstner, John H. "The View of the Bible Held By the Church: Calvin and the Westminster Divines." Inerrancy. Ed. Norman L. Geisler. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1980.
-Lindsell, Harold. The Battle For the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977.
-Preus, Robert D. "The View of the Bible Held By the Church: The Early Church Through Luther." Inerrancy. Ed. Norman L. Geisler. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1980.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Doctrine of Inerrancy-Part 1

One of my greatest concerns today is the departure of many churches (of course I am speaking of visible churches because such could never be a problem of those who are a part of the true invisible church who submits to her head, the Lord Jesus Christ) and so-called Christian organizations from holding to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture. In 1976, Harold Lindsell wrote a book entitled "The Battle For The Bible" where he documented the sad denial of inerrancy by several groups at the time. Over 30 years later such a "battle for the Bible" still is needed. Many denominations are in decline today and have plunged towards liberalism; all because they have quit viewing the Bible to be inerrant and have played fast and loose with its teachings. Such churches who deny the inerrancy of the text of Scripture properly can no longer be called a true church and have no firm foundation to stand upon. Personally, in tears I witness this occurring in the denomination that I serve. My goal in the next two blog posts is to argue for the validity of the doctrine of inerrancy and the dangers of denying it. First, we will look at the evidence for the Bible's inerrancy and then, in a separate post, I will post voices throughout church history who agree with the Bible's teaching concerning its own trustworthiness.

Defining the Doctrine
The first issue we need to discuss concerning the doctrine of inerrancy is just what is meant by the term. Granted it is not a word we normally throw around at the dinner table. (However, if you do, please let me know because I would love to join you then! If the terms propitiation or superlapsarianism often come up, then I am there!) Inerrant basically means without error. It comes from the Latin word errare, to wander. Therefore, to describe something as inerrant is to state that it does not stray from the truth. In relation to the Bible, it communicates the idea that the original autographs of Scripture contain no falsehood pertaining to anything that they claim. “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” defines inerrancy as the “quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions." Everything the Bible says is true and can be trusted. Whether historical, sociological, scientific, biological, or psychological, the Bible can be found to be accurate. It makes no mistakes in anything it asserts. The Bible may not communicate every fact in existence but in what it does share, it can be described as accurate in those facts. So to say that the Bible is inerrant means that it does not contain any errors of any kind in whatever it may say. Please note that this only refers to the first writings of the Scripture that came from the dripping of the pens of the original authors and copies and translations today only as they accurate represent them.

Deduction From the Doctrine of Inspiration
We know that the Bible is without error because its author is One who cannot err. The fact that the Bible is the inspired Word of God leads to the conclusion that is it inerrant. At least 3,808 times the Old Testament authors refer to a statement as being Thus said the LORD or something equivalent to it. The prophets are described as having the word of the LORD coming down upon them before they spoke His words (Jeremiah 1:1-2; Ezekiel 1:2-3; Joel 1:1; Hosea 1:1). The clear implication is that the prophets spoke what God had told them to speak and thus were delivering His message.

The New Testament authors also viewed the Old Testament writings as being God's very word. Peter tells us that But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20-21). Though written down by the instrument of man, the ultimate author of Scripture is God whose Holy Spirit moved men to write down His very words. Paul refers to all Scripture as inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Literally, the Greek reads that all Scripture is God-breathed. The all Scripture that Paul refers to is the Old Testament as that would have been Scripture for both the apostle and Timothy. The author of Hebrews even states that the author of Psalm 95 is ultimately the Holy Spirit and not David. Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, . . . (Hebrews 3:7). A similar case may be found in Peter's discussion of the necessity to choose Judas' successor based on Scripture in Acts 1:16. He states that the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David (Acts 1:16) indicating the Holy Spirit as the author and David as the means. The New Testament writers are unwavering in their testimony to God's inspiration of the Old Testament writings.

Although the New Testament as we have it today had yet to be completed at the time, there is evidence that the New Testament authors considered their own writings as Scripture, God's very word, as well. For instance, Paul quotes a statement of Jesus recorded by the author Luke and calls it Scripture in I Timothy 5:18. The quote is alongside one from Deuteronomy. Luke's writing is deemed authoritative by Paul in teaching that elders should be paid for their service. Also, Peter explicitly labels Paul's letters as Scripture. He states that the untaught and unstable distort his writings as they do the rest of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16). So, according to Peter, Paul's letters are a part of Scripture. Furthermore, these letters were intended to be read aloud to the congregations and admonish them (Colossians 4:16).

So the Bible itself claims to be more than just any words but God's very words. If the Bible is God's Word as it claims, then it must be inerrant. Otherwise it cannot be described as God's Word. As R. C. Sproul explains, “If [the Bible] is the Word of God, it does not err. If it errs, it is not the Word of God. Surely we can have a word about God that errs, but we cannot have a word from God that errs.” To deny the inerrancy of Scripture is to deny the inspiration of the Scripture. The two doctrines rise and fall together.

Declaration of Scripture Concerning It's Own Inerrancy
Though we don't have to just deduce the doctrine of inerrancy from the claims of Scripture that they are God's actual words. The Bible explicitly refers to itself as inerrant throughout its pages. In Psalm 19:7 we read, The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The Hebrew word for perfect literally means complete or sound. Something that is in accordance with the truth. Likewise, several verses in Psalm 119 point out the inerrancy of Scripture (vv.42,96,140,142,151,160,172). Jesus Himself acknowledged the fact that Scripture contains no errors and thus can be completely trusted. He says in Matthew 5:18: For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. He mentions in John 10:35 that the Scripture cannot be broken and states in John 17:17, Sanctify then in the truth; Your word is truth. James refers to Scripture as the perfect law (James 1:25). All of this attests to Scripture being without error.

Drawing a Circle?
Now I know that someone reading this right now is crying "foul" and will accuse me of using circular logic in coming to my conclusion that Scripture is inerrant. That I say that Scripture is inerrant because it says it is inerrant and it says that it is inerrant because it is inerrant. However, this is not simply the case with my argument. Logically, the Bible, like anything written or spoken, makes assertions. Those assertions can either be valid or invalid (to use some of the technical logical terms for "right" or "wrong"). The Bible claims that it is the Word of God that does not err. That is either a correct assertion or an incorrect one. As one who has dedicated my life to studying the Bible, I can testify that I have found the Bible's claim to be true. Examining several so-called "apparent contradictions" within Scripture, I have discovered them to be just that, "apparent." I find that most people are too quick to jump to conclusions before actually studying in depth what the text is saying to realize that the passages in discussion do not conflict at all. Also, the greatest validation of Scripture's claim to be God's Word that does not err is the witness of the Holy Spirit within me. He has wrought a conviction in my heart that the Bible is just what it claims. John Calvin puts it well when he points out: "For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit." I pray that God would open up any eyes who are currently closed to these facts and not only would He give them a conviction that the Bible is indeed His Word that does not err in anything that it asserts but also give a desire to read, study, mediate, and live out this Word. And if you have been given eyes to see that the Bible is true, you must deal with the ramifications of what God's Word says about God's holiness and your sin. You cannot deny its truth. May we not only honor the Word of God but in so doing also honor the God of the Word.

In Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!!!