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Thursday
Nov082007

Theological Term of the Week

 

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inerrancy of scripture
The principle that the Bible as it was originally written is completely true and without error.

  • From scripture: 
    God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind. (Numbers 23:19 ESV)
    The words of the Lord are pure words,
    like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6 ESV)
  • From The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy:

    1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.

    2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms, obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.

    3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.

    4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.

    5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.

  • From John Frame in Is the Bible Inerrant? :
    Other things being equal, I would prefer to drop all extra-scriptural terms including “infallible” and “inerrant” and simply speak, as Scripture does, of God’s Word being true. That’s all we mean, after all, when we say Scripture is inerrant. But modern theologians won’t let me do that. They redefine “truth” so that it refers to some big theological notion, and they will not permit me to use it as meaning “correctness” or “accuracy” or “reliability.”
    …Now what is our alternative? Even “accuracy” and “reliability” have been distorted by theological pre-emption. “Correctness” seems too trivial to express what we want to say. So, although the term is overly technical and subject to some misunderstanding, I intend to keep the word “inerrant” as a description of God’s Word, and I hope that my readers will do the same. The idea, of course, is more important than the word. If I can find better language that expresses the biblical doctrine to modern hearers, I will be happy to use that and drop “inerrancy.” But at this moment, “inerrancy” has no adequate replacement. To drop the term in the present situation, then, can involve compromising the doctrine, and that we dare not do. God will not accept or tolerate negative human judgments concerning his holy Word. So I conclude: yes, the Bible is inerrant.

Learn more:

  1. Blue Letter Bible: What is the Doctrine of Inerrancy?
  2. Roger Nicole: Questions and Answer on Biblical Inerrancy
  3. Kevin DeYoung: What Inerrancy Is Not
  4. Greg Bahnsen: The Inerrancy of the Autographa
  5. John Piper: Is the Bible Without Error? (mp3) 
  6. D. A. Carson: What does inerrancy mean? Is it essential to Christian belief? (video)

Related terms:

Filed under Scripture.

Have you come across a theological term that you don’t understand and you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

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