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Inerrancy simply means that the Bible is without error. It’s a belief in the “total truthfulness and reliability of God’s words” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, Inter-Varsity, 2004, 90). Jesus said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The biblically grounded view of inerrancy isn’t just in Bible verses that speak about salvation but is also found to be accurate and true in historical, scientific, and geographical statements as well. It is accurate in matters of faith and practice, but the Bible is accurate and without error regarding any statement in the Scriptures from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. (See John 3:12).
NOTE: Below will be additional articles linked within this article that will take you deeper into the world of the Inerrancy of Scripture, which will enable you to defend the Word of God against the critics and save any spiritual brothers or sisters who might have begun to doubt. Dr. Norman L. Geisler (1932 – 2019) is the feature image because he spent decades of his life defending the Inerrancy of Scripture doctrine.
CLARIFICATION: Some have confusingly thought that when one says Inerrancy of Scripture, they mean that they are saying that all Bibles are error-free. This is not what Inerrancy of Scripture means. Biblical Inerrancy of Scripture is the belief that the Bible “is without error or fault in all its teaching;” or, at least, that “Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.” Let me clarify that even more, Inerrancy of Scripture applies only to the original manuscripts where the Bible authors were inspired by God, moved along by the Holy Spirit. Now that we have restored texts (e.g., WH UBS NA) that are 99.99% a mirror-like reflection of the originals, Inerrancy of Scripture would apply to the critical texts as well. By extension, it also applies to excellent literal Bible translations that are accurate. It does not apply to all Bible translations.
Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy with Exposition
Before beginning, I would mention that New Testament textual scholar, Tommy Wasserman, too me to task over this view when he wrote, “I thought it was belief in Jesus, the Son of God, as savior.”
My response to Wasserman,
Both can be true at the same time, and neither takes away from the other. Belief in the inerrancy of Scripture is evidence that your faith in Jesus is genuine. Just faith alone is true and faith without works is dead is also true, and they are not at odds with each other.
So, the liberal Christian professor at Princeton says he believes in Jesus, the Son of God, as savior. But he also says that the Bible is full of errors, mistakes, and contradictions, and based on many of those supposed errors, mistakes, and contradictions he teaches things that are not biblical. Moreover, his views of Scripture have stumbled many out of the faith. So, when “a much revered and pious professor named Cullen Story” according to Agnostic Bart D. Ehrman wrote on Ehrman’s paper at Princeton, “Hmm…maybe Mark did make a mistake,” is he accountable to God for what came next? Ehrman said, “Once I made that admission, the floodgates opened. For if there could be one little, picayune mistake in Mark 2, maybe there could be mistakes in other places as well.” – Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus (p. 8-9). HarperCollins.
So, is the much revered and pious late professor Cullen Story, who believed in Jesus, the Son of God, as savior, with his belief that the Scriptures are errant, who contributed to the stumbling of Bart D. Ehrman and likely many others, and the thousands that Ehrman now stumbles, culpable before God? Didn’t Jesus say, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea”? (Mark 9:42) Or maybe Mark was wrong again, and Jesus did not really say that? Maybe we should check with Agnostic Ehrman?
What do the many verses in the Bible say about causing another to stumble?
“AS THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARIES GO, SO GOES THE CHURCH”—J. Gresham Machen—The Christian Faith in the Modern World, p. 65
Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy with Exposition
First, let’s take a few paragraphs to offer the reader an overview of how dangerous Higher Criticism (Biblical Criticism).
Such Bible scholars as Robert L. Thomas, Norman L. Geisler, Gleason L. Archer, F. David Farnell, and the late Gleason L. Archer Jr. among many others have fought for decades to educate readers about the dangers of higher criticism.
Tischendorf was a world-leading biblical scholar who rejected higher criticism, which led to his noteworthy success in defending the authenticity of the Bible text. Tischendorf was educated in Greek at the University of Leipzig. During his university studies, he was troubled by higher criticism of the Bible, as taught by famous German theologians, who sought to prove that the Greek New Testament was not authentic.
NT Textual scholar Harold Greenlee writes, “This “higher criticism” has often been applied to the Bible in a destructive way, and it has come to be looked down on by many evangelical Christians.” Greenlee, J. Harold. The Text of the New Testament: From Manuscript to Modern Edition (p. 2). Baker Publishing Group.
Higher critics have taught that much of the Bible was composed of legend and myth, that Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible, 8th century Isaiah did not write Isaiah, there were three authors of Isaiah, 6th century Daniel did not write Daniel, it was penned in the 2nd century BCE. Higher critics have taught that Jesus did not say all that he said in his Sermon on the Mount and that Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees in Matthew 23, as this was Matthew because he hated the Jews. These are just highlights for there are thousands of tweaks that have undermined the word of God as being inspired and fully inerrant. Higher critics have dissected the Word of God until it has become the word of man and a very jumbled word at that. Higher criticism is still taught in almost all of the seminaries, and it is quite common to hear so-called Evangelical Bible scholars publicly deny that large sections of the Bible as fully inerrant, authentic, and true. Biblical higher criticism is speculative and tentative in the extreme. This fits with the textual scholar, Daniel B. Wallace’s recent words in MYTHS AND MISTAKES In New Testament Textual Criticism, where he said: “The new generation of evangelical scholars is far more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty than previous generations.” (Page xii)
Did Jesus Christ Believe Inerrancy of Scripture?
Craig Evans says Jesus did not say the I AM STATEMENTS IN JOHN’S GOSPEL:
(1) I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51)
(2) I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)
(3) I am the Door of the Sheep (John 10:7, 9)
(4) I am the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)
(5) I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
(6) I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
(7) I am the True Vine (John 15:1, 5)
After two centuries, higher critics with their higher criticism have ousted the Bible from its earlier status as the fully inerrant, inspired Word of God? Higher criticism has opened the flood gates to pseudo-scholarly works, which has resulted in undermining Christians’ confidence in the Bible. There is utterly no solid evidence for the claims made by higher critics. If any supporter of higher criticism says, “just because some have gone too far, or some have abused the method, this does not negate the benefits of using it,” listen to that foreboding feeling in the back of your mind. Or, the higher critic might argue, “you can take the good parts of higher criticism and leave the parts that undermine the Bible.” This is like saying, “you can remove the 75% poison from the water before drinking it, trust me.” There is a way to remove the bad parts for sure, fully abandon what is known as the subjective historical-critical method of interpretation and return to the old objective historical-grammatical method of interpretation.
THIS IS WHY CPH HAS CREATED A SECTION TO EDUCATE THE CHURCHGOER ON HIGHER CRITICISM – 20 articles at present, some over 100+ pages long.
CATEGORY: SERIOUSLY FLAWED BIBLICAL CRITICISM ASSAULT ON THE BIBLE
End of Excursion
Atheist Bible Scholar (oxymoron) Dr. Bart D. Ehrman responds in a Question and Answer section at the end of his book, in which he is asked about his view of “Why do so many people―including some ultraconservative scholars with full access to the manuscript record―insist that the Bible is without error? And why is inerrancy of Scripture the supposed foundation upon which all other Christian beliefs stand or fall?”
Ehrman says, “Actually, the view that the Bible is inerrant is a completely modern idea―it is not the traditional “Christian” view since time immemorial. Many Christians, especially in my part of the world, the American South, don’t realize this, but simply assume that belief in the Bible has always been the central tenet of the Christian faith. But that’s not true. In fact, the views of inerrancy held by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians today were developed less than a century ago, in a set of conflicts in Christian circles in the United States.” Misquoting Jesus, (p. 249)
Here again, I believe Ehrman is over-stating the case. The church has always held to the inerrancy of the Bible. It is true that it has not been clearly stated as it has in modern times. Then again, this can be stated about many things, because the last 150-years have been the case of nuancing things to no end. In addition, you must realize the Bible has never been under attack as it has over the last 150-years. Sure, there has always been a Bible critic. To illustrate, the critics of the Bible in earlier history would be like being stung by an occasional bee in your life, maybe a handful of times. Today, it is like spending your entire life locked in a pit full of vipers. Therefore, there is a need to define in a more clearly stated way, what you mean by the Bible being completely dependable. If the church has always accepted that the Bible is completely dependable since its beginning, but the recent church has found the need to identify a term like inerrancy and standardize what is meant by inerrancy, then we are really referring to the same thing. One of the most revered Church Fathers, Augustine of Hippo (354-430 C.E.) wrote,
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 free from error. And in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to be opposed to 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.
Martin Luther wrote, The Scriptures have never. . . . The Scriptures cannot err. . . . It is certain that Scripture would not contradict itself; it only appears so to the senseless and obdurate hypocrites.
The Bible is Completely Dependable
Some may argue that Augustine held to the complete truthfulness and reliability of the Bible, but that in the same breath he used the allegorical method of interpretation, and used such a method to remove any Bible difficulties he came across. Well, this is certainly true, but it does not remove the fact that he believed the Bible to be completely reliable. When Ehrman says “the view that the Bible is inerrant is a completely modern idea,” this is what I am disagreeing with, not the method of a person’s interpretation. In addition, he might suggest that Luther was not always consistent, but again, this does not matter. The point is that he believed the Bible to be completely dependable.
Regardless of a person’s inconsistency, or method of interpretation, the church has always held to the belief that the Bible was free from any untruths, even if some of their truth may have not been biblically correct. Just because the interpretation is wrong, this does not mean the text is wrong. Whether this idea of being free of untruth and completely dependable is exactly what we mean by inerrancy is not absolutely attainable. However, the ‘idea’ is the same.
Fundamentalism and Inerrancy
“Critics claim the Bible is filled with errors. Some even speak of thousands of mistakes. The truth is there is not even one demonstrated error in the original text of the Bible. This is not to say that there are not difficulties in our Bibles. There are, and that is what this book is all about. It is only to point out that there are not actual errors in the Scriptures. Why? Because the Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot err.”
How did the fundamentalism movement get its start? In the late 1870s, conservative Christianity was becoming a part of the world with its “isms,” such as of progressivism, modernism, relativism, and liberalism. Conservative scholarship, especially in Germany, was diving headlong into higher criticism of the Bible, as well as science, such as evolution. The result of this move was that the churchgoer had lost their faith in God’s Word, the Bible. In the first 25-years of the 20th century, conservative scholars in the United States, such as R. A Torrey published a document that established the fundamentals of their faith. This series was entitled The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. From this title comes the term “fundamentalism.”
In the initial junctures of the fundamental undertaking, late 19th century to the first half of the 20thcentury, they were covered by the news from time to time. Such as, in 1925, the fundamentalist movement took a schoolteacher named John Scopes of Tennessee, to court, which became known as the Scopes trial. What was John Scope’s crime? He taught evolution, which was against the law, in those days. During this time, many had felt that this new fundamentalism was nothing more than a passing fad. Indeed, in 1926, Christian Century, a Protestant magazine, said they were “hollow and artificial” and “wholly lacking in qualities of constructive achievement for survival.” Well, that charge was unquestionably wrong!
By the 1970s there was a growth of the Fundamentalism movement, finding themselves covered by the news far more often. The five decades after the Scope’s trial not only saw a survival but progress as well. On the other hand, the term fundamentalism has grown into a wide-ranging term that includes more than the Protestant. It now covers others, such as Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism.
An Answer to Our Times
One might wonder why Fundamentalism has spread to such an extent. Those that have followed the movement, suggest that it is the moral and religious insecurity of our times. In the early years, most people were centered in their moral compass based on long-held traditional beliefs. Those beliefs of a hundred years ago are being challenged on every front, and have disappeared for most of society. The world is filled with modern-day intellectuals, who declare that there is no God and that the human race is alone in an unresponsive universe. The scientific community teaches that humans are not the result of creation by some loving Creator, but are a result of chance evolution. A tolerant mindset rules the modern world. The world is overwhelmed with the cost of shrinking moral values on all planes of society.—2 Timothy 3:4, 5, 13.
Fundamentalists hunger and obsess after the old convictions, and a number of them struggle to bring the public and nations back to what they feel are biblical moral and doctrinal fundamentals. They use every fiber of their being to move others to live in a way that they feel is a “correct” moral worldview and system of doctrinal beliefs. Fundamentalists are unmoving in their biblical worldview position and seldom give ground to those that differ. Professor James Barr, in his book Fundamentalism, says that fundamentalism “is often felt to be a hostile and opprobrious [scornful] term, suggesting narrowness, bigotry, obscurantism and sectarianism.” (Barr 1981, 2) The modern world view fundamentalists as narrow-minded, bigoted, or dogmatic. What aspects is there that would characterize fundamentalism?
Recognizing a Fundamentalist
There is an attempt by fundamentalists to get back to what is thought to be the original beliefs or foundations of their group and to do battle with what is professed as the secular spirit of the world. This does not mean that fundamentalists are in opposition to all things modern, as they use all modern conveniences like any other, and use modern tools to promote their ideas. However, they do oppose the secularization of society.
While some are content to apply these beliefs on themselves alone; others work to impose them on all of society. They want to use government and other social structures to conform society to fundamentalist beliefs. Catholic Fundamentalists, for instance, reject abortion but do not limit it to just themselves. They will work with the government of their country, to get the laws to reflect their position. They have gone to war with legislative bodies in a number of countries, such as Poland. The Protestant Christian Coalition in the United States has fought like “wars.”
The one criterion that will set a true fundamentalist apart is their deep-seated religious beliefs. A Protestant fundamentalist will accept the Bible as the inspired and fully inerrant Word of God, to be interpreted literally. Of course, literally being what the original writer meant by the words he used, as they should have been understood by his intended audience. They, of course, recognize the figurative language. However, once the figurative language is understood, the meaning that is represented by that figurative language is to be taken literally. Therefore, a Protestant fundamentalist will be a committed advocate of the literal interpretation of the Bible. A Catholic fundamentalist has no misgivings about the infallibility of the pope.
The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) Statement on Inerrancy was a ground-breaking church document, which was produced in 1978 by the biggest (at the time), wide-ranging, group of evangelical Protestant scholars that had ever come together to fashion a shared, theological document in the 20th-century. It is perhaps the first thoroughgoing inclusive, broadly based, scholarly, statement of beliefs on the inspiration and authority of Scripture in the history of the church.
Modernism Takes the Historic View on Inerrancy to Task
Going back to just after the Fundamentalist battles of the 1920s and 1930s, major portions of Christian denominations, aside from the Baptist and Presbyterian, were in the deep end of the pool of liberalism, especially in reference to their view of the Bible. The conservative fundamentalist evangelicals of these now liberal denominations chose to abandon the sinking ship, and start their own denominations, as well seminary schools, and missionary endeavors. They stood firm on the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, as the Word of God. As European scholarship has always been decades further down the liberal abyss, most of their seminaries were already student-mills of liberalism. Now the United States and Canada were on the fast-track of catching up.
How was it that the battle of the 20s and 30s did not overcome liberalism, or at least hold their ground? The next generation really lacked the courage to confront their enemy head-on. They were far more willing to pursue peace where there was no peace and is still the mindset today in the evangelical camp. This is the major contributing factor as to why we have the statistics that we do below.
The Sad Statistics
- 41,000 religious groups call themselves Christian
- There are 350,000 Churches in the United States
- 80% of these are stagnant
- 19% of these experience growth only by transfers and procreation
- 1% of these are the result of ministering, growth by conversion
- 98% of churchgoers cannot answer basic Bible questions and are unable to participate in some form of ministry
The lack of knowledge in the Churches is by far the number one concern of Church leaders around the world, especially the conservative ones.
Young people are walking away from Christianity in record numbers. Like it or not, the numbers do not lie. In survey after survey, most college-aged Christians appear to be abandoning their faith before they become seniors in college, and only about a third of them ever return to the faith:
- 88% leave the faith according to the 2002 SBC Family Life Council Study
- 70% leave the faith according to the 2007 LifeWay Research Study
- 66% leave the faith according to a recent Assembly of God Study
- 61% leave the faith according to the 2006 Barna Group Study
- Part of the problem is simply that the Christian Worldview is under attack in universities all across America. According to a 2006 study conducted by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons:
- 25% of college professors are professing atheists or agnostics (compared to 5-7% in the general population).
- Only 6% of college professors describe the Bible as the “actual word of God”
- 51% of college professors describe the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts”
- 75% of college professors believe that religion does not belong in public schools
It is time to address the problem. Many students are walking away from Christianity because they no longer believe it is true. In a survey conducted by sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton, 32% of former believers said they left because of intellectual skepticism:
- “It didn’t make sense anymore”
- “Some stuff is too farfetched for me to believe”
- “I think scientifically and there is no real proof”
- “Too many questions can’t be answered”
Robert H. Johnson, Evangelicals at an Impasse: Biblical Authority in Practice (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), pp. 147 and 7.
Contemporary evangelicals are finding it difficult to achieve anything like a consensus on each succeeding theological topic they address. Moreover, they seem stymied in any effort toward unity, unable to agree on a collective interpretive strategy for moving beyond their current impasse…. If Evangelicals cannot discover a way to move more effectively toward theological consensus, can they still maintain in good conscience their claim to Biblical authority as a hallmark?
The Evangelicals are Infected by Neo-Orthodoxy
Just as we all have inherited imperfection from the first man, Adam, the two decades of 1947 to 1967 saw another kind of infection. The evangelical seminaries of America chose to send their best and brightest students to European universities to get their Ph.D. Most of these brought the infection of higher criticism back to the universities of the United States. Therefore, the American seminaries were then inundated with a neo-orthodox view of the Bible. These ones at that time are no different than the “conservative” scholarship today, which believe that one can dip their toe into the pool of higher criticism, and not eventually be swimming in the deep end of that pool, or that the Bible does not end up being the victim of this so-called “scholarly” new way of studying the Bible.
It may have gone another way if these returning young professors had chosen to openly challenge the fundamentalist belief of an “infallible written Word.” No, they chose a far craftier way, by taking up the arguments of the liberal Swiss theologian Karl Barth. In his book Church Dogmatics, Barth writes, “What we have in the Bible are in any case human attempts to repeat and reproduce [the] Word of God in human words and thoughts and in specific human situations.” He argues, “The Bible is God’s Word to the extent that God causes it to be His Word, to the extent that He speaks through it.” (Barth 1936, 113)
The Reliability of Scripture is Undermined by Higher Criticism
The craftiness of the neo-orthodox professors is the fact that they came away seeming very sincere as though they were honoring God’s word, all the while their belief that concepts such as right and wrong, goodness and badness, or truth and falsehood are not absolute but change from culture to culture and situation to situation. They present their concepts of relativism in such a way that it does not immediately register as an attack on the Bible. Are the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ true? Did he give the Sermon on the Mount? Was Jesus really resurrected? Did he actually say: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”? (John 14:6, LEB)
A group of Bible scholars had met twice a year after 1985, which became known as the Jesus Seminar, to establish what Jesus really said and did. Seminar participants have cast ballots on each saying credited to Jesus in the Gospels. A red ballot indicates the opinion that the statement was indeed made by Jesus. A pink ballot means that a statement looks like something Jesus might have said. A gray ballot shows that the thoughts may be close to those of Jesus, but the statement did not originate with him. A black ballot is totally adverse, holding that the statement resulted from later tradition. Amazingly, they have cast a black ballot for 82 percent of the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. According to them, only 18 percent of the dealings related to Jesus in the Gospels and other writings appear to be authentic.
These new orthodox “evangelical” do not accept that the Bible is absolutely true in matters of science, history, geography, time and space, and anthropology. (i.e., parts of Christian doctrine that are concerned with the nature, origin, and destiny of humankind), yet in the same breath, they claim the Bible is able to communicate truth on salvation doctrines: salvation, sanctification, atonement, and so on. The irony is that they expect persons to readily accept the reliability of doctrinal positions that are not provable per se, but to set aside geography, history, and science as being unreliable.
The liberal view of Scripture is that the original language texts are partially reliable and partially unreliable as to truth. Moreover, we need the liberal scholar to establish for us what parts of the Bible we can trust, and which parts we cannot trust. Liberal scholarship believes that Moses did not pen the Pentateuch, that there are three or more writers for Isaiah, and none are the traditional one from eighth-century B.C.E., or that Daniel was not penned by the Daniel, but by a spurious author on the second-century B.C.E., nor do they accept the flood as having been global, or that we have descended from Noah and his family. As we saw in the above from Bart D. Ehrman, they do not accept that Jesus, Paul, the second-century Apologist, and Church Fathers of the centuries after Jesus did not believe that Scriptures is inerrant. The liberal scholar believes as Ehrman stated, “the view that the Bible is inerrant is a completely modern idea.”
Liberal Scholarship Roots Itself in Evangelical Seminaries
The 1960s and 1970s saw an influx of evangelical seminaries, colleges, denominations that had inherited the infection of liberalism. Many of the pastors, ministers, and professors that were educated in this era, although sincere, hold to a liberal view of Scripture, like the examples cited above. Sadly, they see nothing wrong with this mindset and viewed true conservative scholars as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, who are narrow-minded, unscholarly, and having failed to join the 20th-century. It is for this reason that many conservative Christians sat idly by, hiding from the barrage of slanderous comments that would result in stating one’s conservative position on the Bible. As a result of the 60s, the conservative movement felt the need to establish the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy in 1977.
The Battle for the Bible
In 1976 Dr. Harold Lindsell shocked the evangelical world with the release of his book, The Battle for the Bible, which let loose on the institutions and denominations that wanted to claim they were conservative evangelical, but were nothing more than a quagmire of liberalism. The Battle for the Bible was a scholarly portrayal and accurate depiction of the level of liberal decline in the seminaries, colleges and denominations. Lindsell’s charges were so on point that there was never one incident of refutation from those that had been taken to task. True enough, they raged and spoke out against Dr. Lindsell, but that was as far as they could go, being that they were guilty as charged.
Here Lindsell was being bold and courageous, and yet he did not receive the welcome one would have thought. The Battle for the Bible was viewed by the conservative evangelical community as being too conflict-ridden, and the Lindsell was being too unforgiving and lacked love when he openly exposing those that had chosen the liberal path. The church refused to go to war over the doctrine of inerrancy. They chose to hide behind inaction, while liberal scholars were enjoying themselves, as they had free reign to mock the “old” views of inerrancy in the periodicals and journals. It was this environment that gave birth to International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.
How Was a Now Treasured Ancient Greek New Testament Manuscript of John’s Gospel Rescued From the Garbage Heap?
Planned Battle Strategies
Natural or general revelation is rooted in creation and in the ordinary relationship of God to man. General Revelation does not afford man the reliable knowledge of God and spiritual things that he needs for salvation. It is therefore inadequate as a foundation for the Christian faith. However, there is enough light in general revelation so that man is left without excuse if he does not live up to the light he has. God has also disclosed Himself in special revelation: … theophany, direct communication, and miracles. (p. 29)
The Bible is the Word of God and it is the Word we now speak. When we say the Bible is the Word of God. It makes no difference whether the writers of Scripture gained their information from God as in the case of the book of revelation, or whether they researched matters as Luke did, or whether they got their knowledge from extant sources, court records, or even by word of mouth. The question we must ask is whether what they wrote, wherever they may have secured their knowledge, can be trusted. This brings us to the doctrine of inspiration, which is clearly taught in the Bible itself. Inspiration may be defined as the inward Work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of chosen men who then wrote the Scriptures so that God got written what he wanted. The Bible in all its parts constitutes the written Word of God to man. This Word is free from all error in its original autographs. … It is wholly trustworthy in matters of history and doctrine. However limited may have been their knowledge, and however much they may have erred when they were not writing sacred Scripture, the authors of Scripture, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, were preserved from making factual, historical, scientific, or other errors.―Battle for the Bible, pp. 30-31.
Before moving on, it may be best to address a common issue with the idea that ‘only the original was inspired and error-free.’ For this, we will once again consider the words of the Bible critic, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman.
The Moody experience was intense. I decided to major in Bible theology, which meant taking a lot of biblical study and systematic theology courses. Only one perspective was taught in these courses, subscribed to by all the professors (they had to sign a statement) and by all the students (we did as well): the Bible is the inerrant word of God. It contains no mistakes. It is inspired completely and in its very words—“verbal, plenary inspiration.” All the courses I took presupposed and taught this perspective; any other was taken to be misguided or even heretical. Some, I suppose, would call this brainwashing. Misquoting Jesus (p. 4) So rather than actually having the inspired words of the autographs (i.e., the originals) of the Bible, what we have are the error-ridden copies of the autographs. Misquoting Jesus (p. 5). What good is it to say that the autographs (i.e., the originals) were inspired? We don’t have the originals! We have only error-ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them, evidently, in thousands of ways. Misquoting Jesus (p. 7) I’ve indicated, already at Wheaton I had begun to question some of the foundational aspects of my commitment to the Bible as the inerrant word of God. That commitment came under serious assault in my detailed studies at Princeton. Misquoting Jesus (p. 8). Bold mine.
Ehrman seems to start with the belief that if the originals were inspired by God and fully inerrant, it must remain that way, in order to remain inerrant. He seems to be asking, “if only the originals were inspired, and the copies were not inspired, and we do not have the originals, how are we to be certain of any passage within Scripture?” In other words, God would never allow the inspired inerrant Word to suffer copying errors. Why would he perform the miracle of inspiring the message to be fully inerrant, and not follow up with the miracle of inspiring the copyist, to keep it inerrant? First, we must note that God has not given us the specifics of every decision he has made in reference to man. If we start the, ‘why did God not do this or do that,’ where would it end? For example, why did God just not produce the books himself, and miraculously deliver them to persons such as Moses? Why did he not use angelic messengers to pen the message, or produce the message miraculously? God has chosen to not tell us why he did not inspire the copies, so it remains unknown. However, I would contend that if one can restore the text to its original wording through the science of textual criticism, to an exact representation thereof, you have, in essence, the originals. I call it preservation through restoration.
In the end, what we do know is that the Jewish copyists and later Christian copyists were not infallible like the original writers. The original writers were inspired by Holy Spirit, while the copyists were guided by Holy Spirit. However, do we not have a treasure-load of evidence from centuries of copies? Regardless of the recopying, do we not have the Bible in a reliable critical text and trustworthy translations, with both improving all the time? It was only inevitable that imperfect copyists, who were not under inspiration, would have errors creep into the text. However, the thousands of copies that we do have, enable the textual scholars to trace these errors. How? Different copyists made different errors. Therefore, the textual scholar compares the work of different copyists. He is able to identify their mistakes.
Now we must return to Dr. Lindsell for a moment, to cover his perspective on the nature of inspiration, before we can address his critics that would follow the publication of his book.
The very nature of inspiration renders the Bible infallible, which means that it cannot deceive us. It is inerrant in that it is not false, mistaken, or defective. Inspiration extends to all parts of the written Word of God and it includes the guiding hand of Holy Spirit even in the selection of the words of Scripture. Moreover, the Bible was written by human and divine agencies; that is, it was the product of God and chosen men. The authors of Scripture retained their own styles of writing and the Holy Spirit, operating within this human context, so superintended the writing of the word of God that the end product was God’s. … So the written Word of God is a product that bears the marks of what is truly human and truly divine.―The Battle for the Bible, 31. (Bolding is mine)
There are several different levels of inerrancy. Absolute Inerrancy is the belief that the Bible is fully true and exact in every way; including not only relationships and doctrine, but also science and history. In other words, all information is completely exact. For some, who hold to this position, it includes a sort of dictation of Scripture, which would not allow for “the authors of Scripture retained their own styles of writing.” Full Inerrancy is the belief that the Bible was not written as a science or historical textbook, but is phenomenological, in that it is written from the human perspective. In other words, speaking of such things as the sun rising, the four corners of the earth or the rounding off of number approximations are all from a human perspective. This position allows for the authors of Scripture to retain their own styles of writing but recognizes the inspiration of words as well, but more in the realm that God would not allow a word to be chosen, that would eschew his intended meaning. Limited Inerrancy is the belief that the Bible is meant only as a reflection of God’s purposes and will, so science and history is the understanding of the author’s day and is limited. Thus, the Bible is susceptible to errors in these areas. Inerrancy of Purpose is the belief that it is only inerrant in the purpose of bringing its readers to saving faith. The Bible is not about facts, but about persons and relationships, thus, it is subject to error. Inspired: Not Inerrant is the belief that its authors are human and thus subject to human error. It should be noted that this author holds the position of full inerrancy.
Harold Lindsell draws a line in the sand in The Battle for the Bible, as he clearly states that the doctrine of inerrancy will define whether one is truly evangelical or not.
- Biblical inerrancy is a determining factor of whether one is evangelical. To deny Biblical inerrancy, he or she is not an evangelical. (pp. 139, 210)
- The determinant factor of an evangelical is inerrancy.
- All evangelicals, who hold to the doctrine of inerrancy, are to unite to proclaim and defend the doctrine.
Bernard Ramm in his Misplaced Battle Lines felt that Lindsell “makes it difficult to criticize his book for several reasons.” Ramm goes on to say, “On his view, one of the things to be revealed at the second coming of Christ is the inerrancy of Scripture (p. 211), so to disagree with Lindsell is to be found in the goat’s corner at the Second Coming. The devil is busy testing all, but those that believe in inerrancy are best protected. Hence to disagree with Lindsell is to be caught in the Devil’s corner already.” (Misplaced Battle Lines, 37-38) Another critic exclaimed that Lindsell had closed off the path for, but a very few, who could claim that they were evangelical. “Evangelical” Donald Dayton stated that fewer and fewer evangelicals were holding to inerrancy and; therefore, inerrancy could not be the criterion of whether one was an evangelical. Most evangelicals at the time believe that inerrancy only existed by way of the work of B. B. Warfield and A. A. Hodge, proclaiming that biblical criticism had set inerrancy aside.
Others still believed that inerrancy was taking the attention that could have been better placed on social issues. The idea that the Word of God could be timeless without error, enraged the socially-minded because their position was that the Bible was to be whatever it needed to be for each generation of Christians. The social conservatives viewed inerrancy as oppressive to their social concerns. Clark Pinnock viewed The Battle for the Bible to be rationally shallow and too aggressive and divisive. One, who many would consider being more on the conservative side of the debate, Roger Nicole, refuses to view inerrancy as a standard by which to measure evangelicals. He wrote, “I feel that in all fairness those who prefer to avoid its use [inerrancy] ought not necessarily to be denied recognition as thoroughgoing evangelicals … I doubt that we can make this term a shibboleth by which evangelicals should be separated from non-evangelicals.”
Reasoning with the Critics
Let us consider the twelve-volume Broadman Bible Commentary produced by Baptist scholars. It brought such doubt on the authenticity of the Bible that it had created a firestorm of controversy within Southern Baptist circles for years. However, the storm subsided, with very few challenging the commentary. The Christian Century concerning the 1972 Southern Baptist Convention business sessions said:
The issue that had threatened to provide the most ear-shattering bang at SBC deliberations—the perennial inquisition involving the 12-volume ‘Broadman Bible Commentary’ and its editors—went out with a whimper . . . [conservatives] introduced a resolution requesting the recall and rewriting of the work because of its inconsistency with Baptist belief in the absolute inerrancy of the Bible.
Would most of the delegates respond to a commentary that questioned the Bible’s “absolute inerrancy“? Would they want it rewritten to express categorical backing for the Bible? The report goes on:
“The [delegates] refused by an overwhelming standing vote to endorse the withdrawal of the commentary . . . No head count was taken, but the resolution appeared to have been defeated by a 4 to 1 ratio.”
How can we expect the churchgoer to be united in their beliefs and to ‘be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks them for a reason for the hope that is in them’? (1 Pet 3:15) This is impossible with the church leadership being divided as to the level of inerrancy that the Bible contains. The end result has been 41,000 denominations, with two billion Christians, who are so varied on the beliefs, because of their doubts as to what role Scripture plays. Worse still, is the application of God’s Word in the everyday life of the Christian, because this uncertainty carries over into the realms of Christian conduct.
How Can We Explain Bible Difficulties and the Existence of Hundreds of Thousands of Scribal Errors in Our Manuscripts?
In Bed with the Enemy
Lindsell was onto something, in trying to measure, who is a true conservative, and who is a conservative in name only. One of the criteria to make such a measurement needs to be inerrancy, as it is the glue that holds everything together. Once one accepts the Bible as being fully inerrant, the inspired and Word of God, containing the authority to guide the life of the Christian professing it to be such; then, there are other criteria that can come into play. Jesus said that “if you continue in my word you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The Bible is quite clear about Christians working together with ones, who are not remaining in Jesus’ word.
Romans 16:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 Now I urge you, brothers, to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions of stumbling contrary to the teaching that you have learned, and turn away from them.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who is walking disorderly and not according to the tradition which you received from us.
The doctrine of Scripture, or to be more specific, the doctrine of inerrancy, is to be the principal criteria of whether a Christian is truly Christian, let alone conservative. If one does not hold to full inerrancy, a truly conservative Christian should have no religious dealings with him, unless it is in a debate to debunk him. Dr. Bruce M. Metzger (1914 –2007) was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Bible editor who served on the board of the American Bible Society and United Bible Societies. He was a world-renowned scholar of Greek New Testament, New Testament Textual Criticism, and wrote inexhaustibly on these subjects. There is likely no textual scholar that would not agree that Metzger was the number one textual scholar of the world for the 20th century.
Metzger had a career in his fields that ran literally 70-years. He penned his last book at the age of 92, as well as several other monumental books in his 80s. However, he ended his carrier by taking his most celebrated and widely read book on textual criticism and writing it with an agnostic, who is now an atheist, but grew up and entered the seminary a conservative Christian: The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, And Restoration (1964), 2005 4th edition with Bart D. Ehrman. Dr. Ehrman is an atheist, who has published over 20 books, many being New York Times Bestsellers, where he uses his textual and early Christianity knowledge, to stumble and spiritually shipwreck Christians. Others that would like to think of themselves as conservative Christians, have also coauthored books with Ehrman are, Eldon J. Epp, Michael W. Holmes, Moisés Silva, and Gordon D. Fee, to mention just a few.
It is here that Lindsell had undermined his argument. He correctly argues that to abandon inerrancy, is to cause eventual inroads into other beliefs, such as inspiration, followed by the authority of Scripture, and doctrinal beliefs soon thereafter. He then does a complete about-face and suggests that inerrancy should not prevent one from having fellowship among those who had abandoned the position of full inerrancy. The words from the Apostle John below certainly do apply to a person who became an atheist and has a record of spreading misleading and false information, to further the atheist cause.
2 John 1:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who remains in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting shares in his evil deeds.
In the above Greek text the verb is used to refer to one “who goes too far and does not remain in the teaching of Christ.” (2 Jn 9) “Goes too far” is also rendered “transgresses” (NKJV) or “goes beyond” (HCSB), that is, going beyond certain limits or boundaries. The term, in this case, appears to be dealing with those (like Ehrman), who were in the faith at one time. Therefore, they had gone beyond the limit, because they had left God behind. Anyone, who defects from the faith, loses God in the process.
Inspiration, Moved Along by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Bringing to Remembrance to the Apostles Explained
Below is a list of just a few of the most influential authors in the United States, who call themselves conservative Evangelicals, yet ALL of them are advocates of Historical Criticism Methodology, and its sub-criticisms: Source Criticism, Tradition Criticism, Form Criticism, and Redaction Criticism. Here is just ten of the “tip-of-the-iceberg” of the things that these scholars would agree with:
- Matthew, not Jesus, Created the Sermon on the Mount.
- The commissioning of the Twelve in Matthew 10 is a group of instructions compiled and organized by Matthew, not spoken by Jesus on a single occasion.
- The parable accounts of Matthew 13 and Mark 4 are anthologies of parables that Jesus uttered on separate occasions.
- Jesus did not preach the Olivet Discourse in its entirety, as found in the of the gospel accounts.
- Jesus gave his teaching on divorce and remarriage without the exception clauses found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.
- In Matthew 19:16-17, Matthew changed the words of Jesus and the rich man to obtain a different emphasis or to avoid a theological problem involved in the wording of Mark’s and Luke’s accounts of the same event.
- The scribes and the Pharisees were in reality decent people whom Matthew painted in an entirely negative light because of his personal bias against them.
- The genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are figures of speech and not accurate records of Jesus’ physical/and or legal lineage.
- The magi who, according to Matthew 2, visited the child Jesus after his birth are fictional, not real characters.
- Jesus uttered only three or four of the eight or nine beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12
Many other scholars could be listed, but the examples below are Evangelical, alleged conservative scholars that are supposed to be defenders of God’s Word but have chosen to give ground to the enemy of that Word. Dr. Robert L. Thomas in the Jesus Crisis asks, “Who will defend the Synoptic Gospels if those expected to do so have gone over to the other side of the enemy?” (27)
Robert Stein: The Synoptic Problem; Baker Exegetical Commentary (Mark); New American Commentary (Luke)
William W. Klein: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics
D. A. Carson: An Introduction to the New Testament; Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Matthew)
Craig L. Blomberg: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics; Jesus and the Gospels; From Pentecost to Patmos
Craig L. Blomberg: The Historical Reliability of the Gospels; The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel
Robert L. Hubbard, Jr.: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics
Darrell L. Bock: Baker Exegetical Commentary (Luke);
Scot McKnight: Interpreting the Synoptic Gospels
Moisés Silva: Editor of Baker Exegetical Commentary (Luke)
Robert H, Gundry: Matthew, A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church Under Persecution
Everett F. Harrison: Introduction to the New Testament
Donald A. Hagner: Interpreting the Gospels: The Landscape and the Quest, JETS; World Biblical Commentary (Matt)
Robert A Guelich: The Sermon on the Mount, A Foundation for Understanding
Robert H. Mounce: A Good News Commentary (Matthew)
Michael J. Wilkens: The Concept of Disciple in Matthew’s Gospel
David S. Dockery: Editor of the New American Commentary (Matthew)
James A. brooks: New American Commentary (Mark)
Ned B. Stonehouse: Origins of the Synoptic Gospels
Frederick Dale Bruner: The Christ book, A Historical/Theological Commentary (Matthew)
R. J. Wyatt: The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Pharisees)
S. Westerholm: Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Pharisees)
I. Howard Marshall: The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Luke)
Choosing one out of the above, Robert H. Gundry makes use of redaction criticism, to the extent that he has denied biblical inerrancy. Gundry’s reasoning on Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Mark 10:11, is that the exception clause of Matthew 5:32 “comes from Matthew, not from Jesus, as an editorial insertion to conform Jesus’ words to God’s Word in the Old Testament.” In another incident, Gundry determines that in Matthew 10:16-42 that “Matthew brings together various materials scattered in Mark and Luke and relates them to the persecution of the twelve disciples, who stand for all disciples of Jesus.” Yet another incident in Matthew 2:2, Gundry on Matthew’s comment concerning “the King of the Jews,” is a sign to the readers that they are not dealing with a literal account concerning the Magi. Gundry suggests, “Since Jesus has already be introduced as David’s son, Matthew expects his readers to catch such allusions; or he takes private delight in them.” Far more examples could be shared, as Robert L. Thomas and F. David Farnell filled their book of 416 pages, covering numerous “conservative” scholars, The Jesus Crisis.
The Battle for the Bible by Harold Lindsell proclaimed that losing the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture was the straw that would break the back of the church. Initially, conservative Christians united behind this idea, like-minded that once Christians set aside sola scriptura, the ultimate truthfulness of the Bible, anything can become reasonable and admissible. Since the publication of the Battle of the Bible in 1976, we have seen the watered-down version of what one might consider being a conservative Christian. Progressively, once a conservative scholar or conservative school dips their toe into the pool of higher criticism, setting aside full inerrancy; they will soon be openly swimming in the deep end of that pool, viewing the few that have stood their ground on inerrancy as naïve, who have failed to join the modern-day world. It is inevitable, a clean glove that touches a dirty glove will be the one to get dirty; conversely, it will not rub cleanness off on the dirty glove.
Why would the Holy Spirit miraculously inspire 66 fully inerrant texts, and then allow human imperfection into the copies?
INERRANCY OF SCRIPTURE: (Authority of Copies and Translations). Absolute inerrancy is to be credited to the original written Word of God. This is true of the original 66 books of the Bible, none of which are in existence today. The copies of those original writings are not to attributed with absolute accuracy. Nevertheless, the available tens of thousands of manuscripts for the Old Testament and the New Testament too, enable us to have a restored text that is now reflective of those originals, in nearly exact form, which means a restored text is, in essence, the original text. We do not need the original papyrus manuscripts, we have needed the words themselves, which we now have. God’s own purpose in inspiring the Scriptures yet allowing human copying errors within the text copies cannot be fully known but he has preserved the internal integrity of the Scriptures through the centuries because we have manuscripts that go back thousands of years, which enable us to have a restored text.—1 Peter 1:25.
Article XIX The Chicago Statement On Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI)
WE AFFIRM that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.
WE DENY that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church. (Bold mine)
2 Timothy 3:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God [inspired by God] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; (Bold mine)
2 Peter 1:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Can a Christian be a true Christian if he rejects absolute inerrancy in the originals? Asked another way, can a Christian walk around claiming to be a conservative Christian while denying (rejecting) absolute inerrancy in the originals? Is rejecting absolute inerrancy rejecting the Holy Spirit? To say otherwise means that the Holy Spirit can make mistakes, errors, and contradictions. If a Christian says that there were historical, scientific, geographical mistakes, errors, and contradictions in the originals, are they not saying: (1) the Holy Spirit can make mistakes, errors, and contradictions, or (2) the authors were not inspired by God, carried along by the Holy Spirit. Can one be a true Christian and make such claims? Can one be saved (Calvinism) or on the path of salvation (Arminianism) making such claims? What does the CSBI mean by “grave consequences”?
Why Do We Not Need the Original Bible Manuscripts?
We end this with some very timely words from Jesus Christ:
Luke 18:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 I tell you that he will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find the faith on the earth?”
It might seem unusual that Jesus would end his comments with such a question as this: “However, when the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) He left the question unanswered. This definitely infers that the faith would not be abundant at that time, we should not assume that there would be no true faith at all anywhere here on earth. Instead, we should view it as a personal challenge. We should not assume that our faith will be genuine at that time, regardless of how long we have been God’s devoted, committed servants. (1 Cor. 10:12-13) We must cling to the admonition at Luke 11:9 to ‘keep on asking, … keep seeking, … keep knocking,’ but also, as Jesus emphasized the need for the day of his return, we must “keep looking, keep awake . . . For you do not know when the time will come . . . keep on the watch.” This calls for us to be continuously persistent never letting our hand down, resisting the pressures of apathy and opposition from the world outside of ourselves, also overcoming the weaknesses from within ourselves. (Mark 13:32-37; 14:38) We are mentally bent toward evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21), with a treacherous heart (inner person) that cannot be known (Jer. 17:9), and a natural desire to do bad. So, we must live as though Jesus’ return is tomorrow but plan as though it is fifty years away.
Keep praying in faith that “we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Heb. 10:39) In the most severe trial, we need to keep praying, as Jesus did in his hour of greatest need, that regardless, it is God’s will that will take place. (Matt. 26:38-44) God will be pleased with these kinds of faithful prayers wherein, we recognize that it is his will and purposes that are the most important thing. He allows us as faithful servants to express the depth of our care for him, the passion of desire, and the authenticity of our motives. Yes, God is long-suffering and very patient, be he will execute justice quickly when the time is right in his eyes, not ours. (Ps. 55:16, 17; Rom. 1:9-12) Concerning Luke 18:8 Leon Morris writes, “Vindication will be done speedily, but we should understand this in terms of God’s time (in which one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day, 2 Pet. 3:8). Jesus is speaking of the certainty of speedy action when the time comes. When he asks whether the Son of man will find faith on earth, he is not suggesting that there will be no believers. He is saying that the characteristic of the world’s people at that time will not be faith. People of the world never recognize the ways of God and they will not see his vindication of his elect.” – Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 281.
- Barr, James. Fundamentalism, 2nd ed. London: SCM, 1981.
- Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of the Word of God, Volume 1. New York: T & T Clark International, 1936.
- Blackburn, Bill. “Review of the Battle for the Bible.” The Review and Expositor, 74 (1977): 105-107.
- Comfort, Philip Wesley. The Quest for the Original Text of the New Testament. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 1992.
- Dayton, Donald W. “The Battle for the Bible: Renewing the Inerrancy Debate.” The Christian Century , Nov 10, 1976: 976-80.
- Faught, Jerry L. Jr. “”Round Two, Volume One: the Broadman Commentary Controversy.” .” Baptist History and Heritage , Winter-Fall, 2003: 27.
- Geisler, Norman L., and Thomas Howe. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992.
- Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament (4th Edition) [Deluxe Edition]. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.
- Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American Culture (p. 192). USA: Oxford University Press, 2009.
- Nicole, Roger. ““Letter to the Editor,”.” Christianity Today, Dec 23 1966: 17.
- Pinnock, Clark H. “Acrimonious Debate on Inerrancy.” Eternity, June 1976: 40-41.
- Ramm, Benard. “Misplaced Battle Lines.” The Reformed Journal, July-August, 1976: 37-38.
- Thomas, Robert L., and F. David Farnell. THE JESUS CRISIS: The Inroads of Historical Criticism in Evagelical Scholarship. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998.
SCROLL THROUGH DIFFERENT CATEGORIES BELOW
BIBLE TRANSLATION AND TEXTUAL CRITICISM
BIBLICAL STUDIES / INTERPRETATION
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM
CHURCH ISSUES, GROWTH, AND HISTORY
 Augustine, Letter 82.3
 Luther, Martin. Werke, Weimar edition (WA), Vol. 34. P. 356.
 Thomas Howe; Norman L. Geisler. Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 67-70). Kindle Edition.
 A religious or political movement based on a literal interpretation of and strict adherence to doctrine, especially as a return to former principles
 (John 15:19; 17:14, 16)
 Christianity leaving is primary purpose of the preaching work, to advocate social, economic, or political reform, even to a point of forming a Progressive Conservative Part.
 A movement in Christianity in which scholars and theologians attempt to accommodate the contemporary world view within Protestant theology and doctrine.
 The belief that concepts such as right and wrong, goodness and badness, or truth and falsehood are not absolute but change from culture to culture and situation to situation.
 A movement in Protestantism stressing intellectual freedom and the moral content of Christianity over the doctrines of traditional theology.
 Marsden, George M. (2006-02-09). Fundamentalism and American Culture (p. 192). Oxford University Press, USA. Kindle Edition.
 The so-called Five Points of Fundamentalism, defined in 1895, were “(1) the plenary inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture; (2) the deity of Jesus Christ; (3) the virgin birth of Christ; (4) the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross; (5) the bodily resurrection and the personal and physical second coming of Christ on the earth.”—Studi di teologia (Studies of Theology).
 Higher criticism is made up of many forms of biblical criticism that is harmful to the authoritative, inspired and inerrant Word of God: historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, social-science criticism, canonical criticism, rhetorical criticism, structural criticism, narrative criticism, reader-response criticism, poststructuralist criticism, feminist criticism, and socioeconomic criticism.
 Of course, this would be Biblical inerrancy as defined by absolute or full inerrancy, nothing short of this.
 Blackburn, Bill, Review of the Battle for the Bible, The Review and Expositor 74 (1977), pp. 105-107
 Dayton, Donald W., The Battle for the Bible: Renewing the Inerrancy Debate. The Christian Century (Nov 10, 1976, pp. 976-80.
 Pinnock, Clark H. Acrimonious Debate on Inerrancy, Eternity (June 1976), pp. 40-41.
 Nicole, Roger, “Letter to the Editor,” Christianity Today (Dec 23 1966), p. 17.
 Faught, Jerry L. Jr.”Round Two, Volume One: the Broadman Commentary Controversy.” Baptist History and Heritage Winter-Fall, 2003.
 The Lexham English Bible, ed. W. Hall Harris, III, Elliot Ritzema, Rick Brannan et al. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Jn 8:31–32.
 Inerrancy is not a biblical term, but is instead a theological term, as it does define a biblical truth.
 Bart D. Ehrman started studying the Bible and its original languages at the Moody Bible Institute and is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. He received his PhD and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under Bruce M. Metzger.
 (Gundry 2003, 90)
 (Gundry 2003, 190-91)
 (Gundry 2003, 27)
Is “Belief In the Doctrine of [Absolute] Inerrancy of Scripture THE Identifying Mark of a True Christian”?
No, it is not. Not according to Scripture.
There are many places within the Scriptures that speak of marker of true disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus occasionally even said, ‘you are my disciples if ___________.’ What is one way that we evidence that we are Jesus’ disciples? He said: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” (John 8:31) This means that genuine Christians must be obedient to Jesus’ teachings. And Jesus entirely relied on the Scriptures to support his teachings; true Christians ground their beliefs on the Bible. (Read Luke 24:27) If you take everything Jesus said in the four Gospels, it would be a 2.5-hour sermon. In them are 120 references or quotes from the OT Scriptures. In fact, the Jews were astounded at how he taught, which meant astounded at his continual reference to the Scriptures. Why? Because every other Jewish teacher did not quote the Scriptures, they quoted former Rabbis. There can be no Christianity today without the Bible. The absolute inerrancy of Scripture means that the originals were absolutely error-free because the Bible’s authors were moved along by the Holy Spirit. You have so-called Christian Bible scholars today who say the Bible contained errors, mistakes, and contradictions, even Bible authors lying in their books. Those are not Christians, and any person who believes such is not a true Christian.
Thank you for your response. I’ll start with our agreement. The central, primary importance of Scripture as divinely inspired (‘God-breathed’) revelation and wholly authoritative is not in dispute (2 Tim. 3.16-17). Nor the central doctrinal tenets of Christianity: e.g., those who claim to be Christian, but deny Christ’s deity, lordship, atoning death & resurrection, etc., (i.e., the euangelion “gospel”; apostolic kerygma preaching of the Cross) clearly can’t be. I also agree with you in principle on many of the things you say. But at the same time, if the Bible is our authority, then we have to recognize that nowhere does the Bible clearly teach that “THE identifying mark of a true Christian” is belief in the inerrancy of the Bible (much less *absolute* inerrancy). The Bible does, however, teach genuine believing confession of Jesus as (the one and only) Lord, belief in His saving, atoning death & resurrection; and fruit consistent with this believing profession; including the fruits of the Spirit, a supernaturally transformed life, and Spirit-filled life of the believer.
Biblically, the most accurate answer to the question of what is *the* identifying mark of a ‘true Christian’ is the ‘sign,’ ‘mark,’ (‘branding’) and/or ‘seal’ designating God’s possession/ownership. For OT Israel, this was circumcision, which in the NT is closely connected with baptism/baptism of the Holy Spirit. Scripture teaches that it is the Holy Spirit ‘seal’ on believers that is “THE” true identifying mark:
“You also are in him, having heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation; in him also, when you believed, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance vouching for God’s redemption of his possession, to the praise of his glory.”–Ephesians 1.13-14:
Thus, Biblically, it is the believer’s experience and reception of the Holy Spirit upon belief in “the good news of your salvation” that is *THE* identifying mark of a true believer. While there is much debate on what this means, it still does not change the clear teaching of Scripture on this point.
To this, I would add a few observations and caveats, which for sake of brevity I will list:
(1) Interestingly, in the Scriptures you cite (and most others like them) the focus is not on Scripture per se, but how Scripture points to Christ as the fulfillment of Scripture. We must be careful to never lose sight of this biblical truth. Thus, while we could say and agree together (as you note above) that “true Christians ground their beliefs on the Bible. (Read Luke 24:27),” the Scriptures you refer to in support, don’t actually say that: e.g., Luke 24.27: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures *the things concerning himself.*” Similarly, the John 8.31 verse you cite as “one way that we evidence that we are Jesus’ disciples,” is not a reference to Scripture, but to Jesus and abiding in His words. The most important thing we see taught about Scripture in the NT is not a doctrinal statement on Scripture but that it points us to Christ. We consistently see this use of the OT throughout the NT.
(2) The difficulty with pursuing the line of argument in your post is that to get to the conclusion requires a significant amount of interpretation–interpretations that not everyone agrees with (and that even if true, we still all agree are not inspired or inerrant).
(3) While I appreciate and effectively agree with your points about “conservative” vs. “liberal” Christians, I strongly recommend avoiding the “conservative (evangelical) Christian” = “true Christian” equivalence that you draw. This is because “conservative” and “liberal” are modern categories that are not found in the Bible, which have changed in meaning over time (and likely will in the future too), and which mean different things to different people. Plus, not everyone neatly falls into a distinct “conservative” or “liberal” dichotomy. Far safer (and more accurate) to use agreement with central orthodox Christian doctrines as the measuring stick.
(4) Furthermore, simply saying you believe in the absolute inerrancy of Scripture is not enough (e.g., Jehovah Witnesses believe this but are still in error). Also, on a practical level it is far too easy to forget the distinction between inerrant autographs and errant copies, such that anyone questioning or pointing out an error in their Bible translation today (or in the past) can risk being falsely accused of not being a true Christian. For example, the Majority Text/Textus Receptus has numerous errors and “corruptions” as you’ve noted elsewhere, yet this was the version that most Christians had in the past 2,000 years. But pointing out a real error in their copy of Scripture would unjustly open them up to false condemnation as heretics/false (not “true”) Christians. If we were having this conversation 100 or 200 years ago and I said I believe Mark 16.9-20 is in error, you might brand me a heretic/false Christian. But now we know that the longer ending of Mark, indeed, is not original but secondary. ***In short: making absolute inerrancy “THE” standard without serious qualification of what that means, risks making the doctrine a shibboleth.
(5) Similarly, we must be careful with blanket statements like “so-called Christian Bible scholars today who say the Bible contained errors, mistakes, and contradictions….Those are not Christians, and any person who believes such is not a true Christian.”….This illustrates my previous point. Without further qualification, I have no idea of whom you speak or how exactly they “lied.” If those Christians genuinely professed faith in Christ as their savior, then as much as we disagree with them and think there will be “grave consequences,” they are still “true Christians,” which leads to my final point:
***MOST IMPORTANTLY: Scripture does not teach that belief in absolute inerrancy of Scripture is necessary for salvation. You state that you accept the CSBI and further note that the CSBI denies that belief in inerrancy is necessary for salvation, BUT then you seem to indicate that you believe otherwise. The last sentence of your response above seems to reinforce this. That is what concerns me the most of everything you say, because such a belief is *not* the clear teaching of Scripture. If someone genuinely confesses & believes in Jesus as Lord and has moral fruits evidencing such a transformation, but believes there are a few minor errors, say in the gospels (like some of the early church fathers did)–nothing that changes essential orthodox doctrines, but errors nonetheless—we still may think they’re seriously out to lunch (and that it may have “grave consequences”), but that is still no Scriptural justification whatsoever for condemning them as unbelievers. The Bible does not teach that. If they genuinely profess faith in Christ as their Lord & Savior, then they are still “true Christians.”
At any rate, those are my thoughts. Thanks for letting me share them.
YOU WROTE: “Scripture does not teach that belief in absolute inerrancy of Scripture is necessary for salvation.”
Never said it did. You are conflating things. I said belief in absolute inerrancy is an identifying marker to a true Christian. They are not the same. Just as a genuine Christian will have works as James says, it does not mean works are necessary for salvation. So, too, with inerrancy.
“Never said it did.”—But you implied
“You are conflating things.”—Perhaps, but in fairness, you’re the one who created the close association (without clarifying) via rhetorical questions like, “Can one be saved…making such claims [i.e., rejecting inerrancy]?”
“I said belief in absolute inerrancy is an identifying marker to a true Christian.”—No, you didn’t. You said it is “THE” (all caps) identifying mark of a true Christian. A significant distinction, and claim that Scripture does not teach.
“They are not the same. Just as a genuine Christian will have works as James says, it does not mean works are necessary for salvation. So, too, with inerrancy.”—But that is a false equivalence that doesn’t apply here. For whereas Scripture *clearly* teaches that works will accompany true conversion, Scripture does not *clearly* teach the same for inerrancy. Furthermore, inerrancy is not a “work,” but a doctrinal *belief* that you are imposing as an additional requirement—actually, “THE” litmus test requirement one must pass in order for a Christian’s confession of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior to count as true and genuine.
*Put another way, you are claiming that it doesn’t matter if a Christian sincerely professes confessional belief and saving faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, AND that it doesn’t matter if such a person also evidences works befitting such a true conversion. Because *even if* one exhibits all that, if he doesn’t ALSO profess, “I believe the original autographs are wholly true in everything that they affirm,” (or if he says, “I believe the Bible is not 100% but only 99.99999% error free,” or if he thinks there is but a single error no matter how tiny or slight), then this is evidence that his accompanying works and saving faith in Jesus Christ—no matter how sincere or unwavering that faith appears to be—amounts to nothing and just *can’t* be genuine and *must* be false; and instead of saving faith, it is evidence that he is *not* saved, but eternally damned.
*I’m sorry, the Holy Scriptures do not teach this.
You do not need to be sorry for your opinion, you are allowed to have an opinion, as that is all you have been offering. I stand by my post, and you can stand by your opinion.