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Tuesday
Feb232010

Theological Term of the Week

infallibility of scripture
The quality whereby the inspired word of God cannot mislead, guaranteeing that it is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters.1

  • From scripture:

    And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…. (2 Peter 1:19 ESV)

  • From The Belgic Confession, 1561, Article 7:
    The Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures to be the Only Rule of Faith
    …[W]e must not consider human writings—no matter how holy their authors may have been—equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for the truth is above everything else. …

    Therefore we reject with all our hearts everything that does not agree with this infallible rule, as we are taught to do by the apostles when they say, “Test the spirits to see if they are of God,”and also, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house.”
  • From The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture by Herman Ridderbos: 

    Although, as far as I am aware, the equivalent of our word “infallibility” as attribute of the Scripture is not found in biblical terminology, yet in agreement with Scripture’s divine origin and content, great emphasis is repeatedly placed on its trustworthiness. The prophetic word is sure (bebaios) (2 Pet. 1:19). In the Pastoral Epistles Paul does not tire of assuring his readers that the word he has handed down is trustworthy (pistos) and worthy of full acceptance (1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8). In Hebrews 2:3 the author writes that salvation was declared at first by the Lord and it was attested (made bebaios) to us by those who heard him. While it must be said of man that “all flesh is grass,” it is true, of the word of God that “it abides forever.” And “that word is the good news, which was preached to you (1 Pet. 1:24,25).

    The abiding and trustworthy word of God has thus entered into the spoken and written word of the apostles. As Luke tells Theophilus, the tradition of what was heard and seen by those who were from the beginning eyewitnesses and ministers of the word has been written down so that he might recognize the trustworthiness (asphaleia) of that of which he has been informed (Luke 1:1-4). The whole of Scripture is full of declarations that the one who builds on the word and promise of God will not be ashamed (Isa. 28:16; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:6); this applies to the spoken as well as to the written word of the apostles (John 19:35; 20:31; 1 John 1:1-3). The Scripture is infallible, so we may summarize, because it does not fail, because it has the significance of a foundation on which the ekklesia has been established and on which it must increasingly establish itself (Col. 2:6,7). … The authority and infallibility of the Scriptures are thus two sides of the same coin: namely, that the Scripture is of God.

Learn more:

  1. Don Stewart: The Difference Between the Infallibility and Inerrancy of Scripture
  2. Herman Ridderbos: The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture
  3. S. Lewis Johnson: Inspiration, or Truth Transmitted (audio)
  4. Brian Borgman: The Inerrancy and Infallibility of the Scriptures (audio)

Related terms:

1 Paraphrased from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

Do you have a a theological term 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.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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Reader Comments (1)

Excellent post, Rebecca. Thanks for the work and research that you put into your posts. There is something beneficial every time I am here!

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

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