Hopefully, we all agree that God is perfect and cannot “err”, but what about the men who penned the Bible?
As the western world lurches to the left socially and politically adopting a liberal/progressive stance on the key moral and social issues facing society, is it any wonder that this all pervasive liberalism also gains ground in the church?
Liberal Christians hate to see things in black and white, they want to view everything in different shades of grey. Right and wrong are all a matter of the society you were brought up in. Maybe Jesus didn’t teach that (insert your favourite sin) was wrong. Maybe Jesus only taught ________ was wrong because he lived in a society that believed it was wrong. Maybe Jesus erred in his humanity when teaching that ________ was morally wrong. Maybe the human authors of the Bible made a mistake when they wrote that God said ________ was wrong.
All of the above “maybe’s” chip away at the foundation of the Christian Faith. With Christians who adopt these positions who needs enemies! The authority of the Word of God is slowly eroded away and Christians are no longer capable of living up to the calling to be “salt and light” issued in Matthew 5:13-16. These views of Scripture echo the words of Satan to Eve in the Garden of Eden.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?” -Genesis 3:1
The Devil is asking Eve if she is really sure what God told her not to do. This is exactly what the biblical inerrancy/infalliblity issue is all about.
The Dual Authorship of Scripture
One interesting objection to biblical inerrancy is the claim that because the transmission of the Word of God through the Bible contains a human element, the human element introduces error into God’s inerrant Word. The slippery aspect of this idea becomes clear when we consider that the 2nd Person of the Trinity also contains a human element. Does this mean that God now can err because He, like the Bible has a human element? Some theologians have already started down this dangerous path suggesting that Jesus taught things simply because he belonged to a culture that believed these things. As I see it, if you believe that, then you are no longer following Christ as –
you have become the judge of his teachings, rather than his teachings being the judge of you.
The Word of God using man’s actual words:
“the spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and his Word was on my tongue” -2 Samuel 23:2
Although I believe that the Scriptures teach that they are the Word of God, there can be no doubt that there is also a human element to the Scriptures. In 2 Peter 1:21 Peter taught that holy men of God spoke “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”.
In Acts 1:16 we find affirmation that the Holy Spirit “spoke through the mouth of David”, a reference to the Old Testament Scriptures penned by David.
Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 2:13 the apostle Paul affirms that his words are not “words which man teaches but words the Spirit teaches”.
The passages above teach the dual authorship of Scripture – that both man and God brought God’s revelation to us by the Scriptures. The God who is spirit used physical man to reveal his truth to a physical world.
The difficulty then, is that the inerrant nature of God (Hebrews 6:18) works through the often very “errant” nature of man.
Biblical “errantists” overemphasise the role that man played in the formation of Scripture to the point where man’s error supersedes God’s almighty, omniscient, omnipotent, perfect, INERRANCY!
“the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times” -Psalm 12:6
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” -2 Timothy 3:16
Do Bible difficulties and alleged contradictions invalidate the inerrancy and God-inspired nature of Scripture?
Sadly, many-a-new Christian’s faith has run aground because of supposed contradictions or difficulties in Scripture pointed out gleefully by the ever helpful and totally impartial atheistic New Testament scholars. It is important to remember at this point why Christians believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.
When I was first saved God blessed me with a supernatural hunger for His Word – the Bible. I remember in those early days poring through the pages of the New Testament and coming up against stumbling block after stumbling block, things that seemed so contrary to what I had been taught all throughout my non-Christian life.
I remember getting very angry, slamming the Bible shut, throwing it down on my bed and storming off in a huff. The amazing thing was that every time I did this, I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit pulling me back to the Bible and saying “who am I, and who are you, which one of us is right?” Every time this happened I remember wilfully stopping my strop and saying to myself, “no…, I’m just a fallible man and You are infallible God – I may not understand but I know Your Word is true”.
“the sum of Your word is truth, and every one of your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” -Psalm 119:160
My attitude turned out to be an amazing blessing, as every time it happened, the next time I returned to the Bible the passage that had so confused me before seemed to make perfect sense. I believe this attitude is what is needed when a Christian comes up against a Bible difficulty or an alleged contradiction in Scripture. Rather than give up on God’s Word as inerrant perhaps we should give up on current historical facts being inerrant and unchangeable.
Critics of the Bible used to say that history and archaeology showed no civilization of the Hittites so the mention of the Hittites in the Bible proves the Bible to be “errant” and mythological. Since the mid 19th century archaeology discovered the Hittites and all of those Christians who questioned biblical inerrancy wished they had not been so quick to side with secular historians and archaeologists – who are of course, always totally fair and impartial!
The fact is that we do not know everything and there may be some things mentioned in the Bible, that with our current level of historical understanding, seem unbelievable. In the end, the faithful Christian may have to say to himself, “this seems to be a contradiction or untrue, I don’t understand, but I do understand that You are God and therefore Your Word contains no contradiction. Although I have no answer yet, I trust there is an answer”.
At its heart, the belief in the inerrancy of Scripture comes from a deductive rather than an inductive argument. Christians believe there is excellent external evidence that God exists. These evidences are the domain of Natural Theology. Christians also believe that there is excellent historical evidence that Jesus is God, proven by his resurrection from the dead. Therefore, given that Jesus is God what he taught about Scripture must be true.
Jesus taught that the Bible was the inerrant, infallible, inspired word of God.
Therefore it is!
Anything less than this and a Christian needs to seriously examine his relationship to the living Word of God – Jesus Christ.