Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
Explore Christian Publishing House’s official statement on Biblical Inerrancy, supported by a thorough exposition. Discover why the Bible’s accuracy is central to the Christian faith and how this doctrine has been upheld through evidence and interpretation.
The Absolute Inerrancy of Scripture: A Conservative Christian Apologetic Perspective
The doctrine of the absolute inerrancy of Scripture serves as a cornerstone for the theological integrity and interpretive coherence of the Christian faith. Simply put, this doctrine posits that the original autographs of the Biblical texts were free from any error in everything they affirm, whether it pertains to theology, morality, history, or even science. This statement seeks to elucidate the foundation, implications, and necessity of this doctrine from a conservative Christian apologetic perspective.
The Foundation of Inerrancy: Inspiration of the Holy Spirit
The concept of inerrancy is inextricably linked to the doctrine of inspiration. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The phrase “breathed out by God” points to the divine origination of the Scriptures, ensuring their reliability and perfection. The human writers functioned as instruments in the hands of the Divine Author, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit-inspired Word of God guides us; there’s no notion of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us apart from this guidance.
Objective Method of Interpretation: The Historical-Grammatical Method
The inerrancy of Scripture requires an interpretive methodology that is both consistent and objective. The Historical-Grammatical method seeks to ascertain the original meaning of the text by considering its historical context, grammatical constructs, and lexical details. This method does not allow for allegorical or typological interpretation but sticks to the text’s plain sense, focusing on what the author intended to convey to the original audience. Such a literal approach is in line with the assumption of inerrancy, which holds that the text is not only inspired but also clear in its communication.
The Implications of Inerrancy: Absolute Truth and Moral Certitude
If Scripture is indeed inerrant, then its pronouncements are absolute, transcending both time and culture. This has profound implications for our understanding of truth and morality. For instance, the Biblical affirmation that Jesus is the “way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) becomes an unshakeable foundation for soteriology. Similarly, moral commands are not subject to relativistic interpretation but stand as objective standards. For example, the commandment “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) provides a universal moral law that transcends situational ethics.
Objections and Responses
Textual Variants: Critics often point to textual variants in the existing manuscripts to dispute inerrancy. However, none of these variants affect core doctrines or moral principles. The original autographs, which are the focus of the doctrine of inerrancy, were without error. Moreover, over the past 500 years, dozens of world-renowned textual scholars have restored the original words of the original texts (Old Testament and New Testament to a 99.99% mirror-like reflection.
Apparent Contradictions: Alleged contradictions within the Bible are often a result of misunderstanding the text’s context or purpose. A careful application of the Historical-Grammatical method often resolves these issues.
Science and Scripture: Skeptics claim that the Bible contains scientific inaccuracies. However, when Scripture makes a statement about the natural world, it does so in a phenomenological language, describing things as they appear to the human eye. This does not negate its inerrancy.
The Problem of Suffering: While some question the inerrancy of Scripture due to the existence of suffering, the Bible clearly states that God allows suffering for reasons that may be beyond our understanding but are ultimately rooted in His perfect will.
The Necessity of Inerrancy: The Integrity of the Christian Faith
The denial of inerrancy leads to a slippery slope where core doctrines and ethical teachings can be undermined. If Scripture can err in one area, it raises doubts about its reliability in others. Inerrancy preserves the integrity of the message of salvation, the nature of God, and the moral standards by which we are to live.
The doctrine of the absolute inerrancy of Scripture is not an intellectual luxury but a theological necessity. It secures the foundation of the Christian faith, providing a reliable basis for doctrine, ethics, and spiritual growth. By adhering to a literal interpretation and the Historical-Grammatical method of exegesis, we honor the divine origin and perfect nature of the Bible, equipping ourselves to defend and proclaim the Christian message effectively.
To forsake inerrancy is to tread a dangerous path that could lead to theological confusion and moral relativism. Therefore, upholding the absolute inerrancy of Scripture is essential for anyone committed to the faithful transmission and understanding of the Christian faith.
Articles of Affirmation and Denial
WE AFFIRM that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.
WE DENY that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.
WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.
WE DENY that Church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.
WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are divinely inspired, being breathed out by God Himself.
WE DENY that the Scriptures are merely human products, subject to human error.
WE AFFIRM that the original autographs of the Scriptures are absolutely inerrant.
WE DENY that any errors, contradictions, or inaccuracies exist in the original autographs.
WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are sufficient for salvation and moral guidance.
WE DENY that additional revelation or human traditions are needed for understanding the path to salvation or ethical behavior.
WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures should be interpreted through the objective Historical-Grammatical method.
WE DENY any allegorical or typological interpretations that distort the original meaning of the text.
WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are clear and perspicuous, capable of being understood by ordinary means.
WE DENY that specialized knowledge or esoteric methods are needed to understand the Scriptures.
WE AFFIRM that there is no universal salvation and that the Scriptures present the exclusive path to salvation through Jesus Christ.
WE DENY that all paths lead to God or that all individuals will be saved.
WE AFFIRM that any apparent discrepancies or contradictions within the Scriptures can be harmonized without undermining their absolute inerrancy.
WE DENY that apparent discrepancies or contradictions within the Scriptures indicate any fault or error in the original autographs.
WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are internally consistent and harmonious, testifying to their inerrant nature.
WE DENY that the Scriptures contain conflicting or contradictory teachings.
WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are historically reliable and accurately depict events, timelines, and persons.
WE DENY that the Scriptures contain historical inaccuracies or fabrications.
WE AFFIRM that when the Scriptures touch on matters of science, they are scientifically accurate, even if they often speak in terms descriptive of human experience and observation.
WE DENY that the Scriptures contain scientific inaccuracies.
WE AFFIRM that the prophetic utterances in Scripture are absolutely reliable and fulfillable.
WE DENY that any prophecy in Scripture has failed or will fail to come to pass.
WE AFFIRM that divine inspiration extends to the very words of Scripture, not just to the thoughts or concepts conveyed.
WE DENY that inspiration only pertains to the general message or intent of the Scriptures, allowing for errors at the word level.
WE AFFIRM that the citations and references to other Scriptures within the Bible testify to its interlocking unity and inerrancy.
WE DENY that the use of citations from other parts of Scripture implies any error or contradiction.
WE AFFIRM that the historical claims made in the Scriptures align with external evidence, supporting the doctrine of inerrancy.
WE DENY that archaeological or historical research can undermine the historical accuracy of the Scriptures.
WE AFFIRM that the manuscript tradition of the Scriptures, despite minor variations, overwhelmingly supports the doctrine of inerrancy. Textual scholarship over the past 500 years has restored the original words of the original texts to a 99.99% mirror-like reflection.
WE DENY that textual variations in the manuscript tradition compromise the inerrancy of the original autographs.
WE AFFIRM that ethical and moral teachings in the Scriptures are universally binding and inerrant.
WE DENY that cultural or historical shifts can make the ethical commands of Scripture irrelevant or erroneous.
WE AFFIRM that the inerrancy of Scripture extends to every genre contained within the Bible, including but not limited to history, poetry, and epistle.
WE DENY that the inerrancy of Scripture is limited to particular genres or sections.
WE AFFIRM that the doctrine of inerrancy has been a consistent teaching throughout church history, upheld by the earliest church fathers and confessions.
WE DENY that the doctrine of inerrancy is a modern invention or a reaction to Enlightenment rationalism.
Belief In the Doctrine of [Absolute] Inerrancy of Scripture Is THE Identifying Mark of a True Christian
“Inerrancy” and “Infallibility”
The terms “inerrancy” and “infallibility” are often used interchangeably in conversations about the Bible, but they carry distinct nuances, particularly when we adopt a precise theological vocabulary. Both terms deal with the truthfulness and reliability of Scripture, but they approach these concepts from slightly different angles.
The term “inerrancy” primarily focuses on the absence of error in the original manuscripts of the Bible. According to this view, every statement that the Bible makes, whether it concerns matters of faith, history, or even science, is free from error when understood in its original context and according to the genre in which it is written. This perspective does not deny the use of figures of speech, idioms, or phenomenological language (language based on how things appear), but it does affirm that the original manuscripts faithfully communicate what God intended to reveal. The term “inerrancy” tends to be more precise and often demands a more rigorous interpretative framework, particularly the Historical-Grammatical method.
Key Scripture: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, UASV).
The term “infallibility,” on the other hand, emphasizes the ultimate reliability of Scripture, particularly as it pertains to matters of faith and practice. When people speak of the Bible as “infallible,” they mean that it is trustworthy and will not fail to accomplish God’s purpose for it. This view holds that Scripture is the final authority on all matters about which it speaks, whether they are spiritual or moral. While it may not delve into the minutiae of historical or scientific details, the emphasis is on the Bible’s unfailing truthfulness in guiding us toward salvation and godliness.
Key Scripture: “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, UASV).
While distinct, these two concepts are interrelated. Inerrancy is often considered a subset of infallibility. If the Bible is inerrant, it is also infallible. However, one could theoretically hold to the Bible’s infallibility (its ultimate reliability in matters of faith and practice) without committing to the finer points of inerrancy.
Understanding these terms with precision allows us to articulate more clearly the nature of the Bible’s truthfulness and authority, reinforcing its role as the inspired Word of God that is both reliable and free from error.
Does Science Agree With the Bible?
The Bible, while not a science textbook, is nevertheless accurate when it touches on matters of science. When I use the term “phenomenological language,” my intention was to communicate that the Scriptures often describe natural phenomena as they appear to human observers, not necessarily in scientific or technical language. This is evident in expressions like “the sun rises” and “the sun sets,” which describe the movement of the sun from an earth-centric viewpoint without implying a geocentric cosmology. The use of such language is not an error but an accommodation to human experience and perception.
Many points about the various examples in Scripture align with scientific knowledge. For instance, the earth hanging on “nothing” (Job 26:7) remarkably aligns with what we understand about the earth’s position in space. Similarly, the “circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22) resonates well with the earth’s spherical shape. The Bible’s laws on sanitation, as found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, are further examples of scientific accuracy, way ahead of the prevailing practices of the time.
The Bible states that the universe had a beginning (Genesis 1:1). This is different from ancient myths that say the universe was shaped from existing chaos. For example, Babylonian myths say that the universe came from two oceans, and other stories claim the universe hatched from a huge egg.
According to the Bible, the universe operates under consistent natural laws and isn’t subject to the random actions of gods (Job 38:33; Jeremiah 33:25). In contrast, myths from various cultures say that unpredictable gods control the universe, making humans powerless against their whims.
The Bible also says the Earth floats in empty space (Job 26:7). This opposes ancient beliefs that the Earth was flat and rested on a giant animal, like a buffalo or turtle.
In terms of Earth’s water cycle, the Bible explains that rivers and springs are replenished by water that evaporates and then returns as precipitation (Job 36:27, 28; Ecclesiastes 1:7; Isaiah 55:10; Amos 9:6). Until the 18th century, people thought rivers came from underground oceans, an idea popularized by the ancient Greeks.
The Bible notes that mountains have risen and fallen over time, even saying that current mountains were once submerged (Psalm 104:6, 8). This contrasts with myths that claim mountains were created by gods in their current state.
For health and sanitation, Biblical laws given to Israel included guidelines for cleaning after touching a corpse, isolating the sick, and safely disposing of waste (Leviticus 11:28; 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 23:13). Meanwhile, ancient Egyptian practices involved harmful methods, like putting human waste on wounds.
Are there scientific errors in the Bible?
Upon a careful review, there are no scientific errors in the Bible. Let’s address some common misconceptions:
- The Bible describes God creating the universe in an undefined past (Genesis 1:1). The “days” in Genesis 1 are unspecified time periods, not 24-hour days (Genesis 2:4).
Was plant life created before the sun?
- The Bible says that the sun, part of “the heavens,” existed before plant life (Genesis 1:1). Initial light was strong enough for photosynthesis by the third “day” (Genesis 1:3-5, 12, 13).
Does the sun orbit the Earth?
- Ecclesiastes 1:5 describes the sun’s apparent movement from Earth. This isn’t suggesting the sun orbits the Earth.
Is the Earth flat?
- Phrases like “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) or “four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12) are metaphors, not literal descriptions.
Is the Bible wrong about Pi?
- Descriptions of “the Sea of cast metal” (1 Kings 7:23; 2 Chronicles 4:2) are approximations or could refer to different parts of the basin, not a mathematically precise value for Pi.
The Bible stands up to scrutiny in matters related to science, supporting the notion of its accuracy and reliability.