Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Authority and Inerrancy of the Bible - Part 2

This is a continuation of review questions from Chapter two of the Wayne Gruden's book Bible Doctrine.

4. Define the term inerrancy and discuss how this idea can be consistent with the Bible's use of the language of ordinary, everyday speech.

Inerrancy defined by Dictionary.com states that it is 1) lack of error; infallibility. and 2) the belief that the Bible is free of error in matters of science as well as those of faith.

Bible Doctrine defines inerrancy as meaning that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything which is contrary to fact." So it means that the Bible always tell us the truth in what it talks about, not that it tells all the facts about every subject.


Though inerrant, the Bible still uses everyday ordinary language that is easily understood by regular people such as the sun rising or such as the number of casualties in a battle reported as 8,000 instead of 7,995 or other measurements. Approximate or round numbers are used in regular speech and are appropriate in many contexts in the Bible.

In the time that the Bible was written, exact quotes were not necessary in quoting someone - in fact quotation marks were not in use at all. So quotes were really usually simply a summary of the correct content of what the person said. So when we see quotes in our Bibles, we need to realize that the writer didn't mean for us to assume that he was writing exactly verbatim what the quoted writer said. So, the Bible can still be inerrant and have loose quotations.

Ordinary people (like us bloggers) were used to write the Bible. So the fact that there are errors in grammar should not be seen as a problem for inerrancy. A southerner who uses what we may deem to be incorrect grammar can have a reputation as a truthful person though his grammar is poor. A persen like me who tends to spell things wronge can, in an incorectly spelled sentanse, right the trugth (yes I know there are problems in that sentence!). God used regular people in their ordinary language.


5. List and respond to three objections to the concept of the inerrancy of Scripture.

1) Some argue that the Bible is only an authority for "faith and practice." People with this belief will say that in matters of history or science the Bible may be in error and will assure you they believe the Bible to be infallible but not inerrant. Infallible is used to mean without error in matters of faith and practice only.

However, the bible itself says that all scripture is useful for us (2 Tim 3:16) and that its perfect and true (Prov 30:5) and we should believe everything written in the prophets (Acts 24:14, Luke 24:14, Rom 15:4, etc.) . When reviewing historical details from the OT referred to in the NT, we see small details used to instruct NT Christians like the three and a half year famine (Luke 4:25-26) , a plot of ground Jacob gave to Joseph (John 4:5), the donkey speaking (2 Pet 2:16) and more. The NT writers didn't seem to think that some parts of the OT were untrustworthy. Although the major purpose of scripture is related to faith and practice, we need to make sure we don't in doing that assume that it is the only purpose in having the scripture. Part of the purpose of the Bible must be to tell us about minor historical details and other aspects of life. it's better to say that the "whole purpose of Scripture is to say everything it does say, on whatever subject." God put every word there for a reason and we should value what he values.

2) Some say that inerrant is a poor word to use since it's so precise and seems to claim a scientific accuracy that we shouldn't use for the Bible. They may also say that the word is not used in the Bible and so we shouldn't use it either.

But inerrancy has been used for hundreds of years and in that word they have always allowed for limitations of speech in ordinary language. Also we use many words like trinity or incarnation that are not in the Bible but useful for summarizing a true concept in one word.

3) Some argue that since we don't have any original manuscripts talking about an inerrant Bible is useless. However, by comparing manuscripts that we do have, it's possible to reconstruct original documents. Through this process, we know what the original manuscripts said for over 99% of the words. Where there are variation, there are often obvious copy errors. In the small percentage of passages with uncertainty about the original text, usually the general sense of the sentence is clear from context. So, in essence the published scholarly tests of the Hebrew OT and Greek NT "are the same as the original manuscripts." So inerrancy should be applied to those as well as the original manuscripts.

6. Name four possible problems that may result from a denial of biblical inerrancy.

1) If we say that the Bible is not inerrant, then are we allowed to lie in small areas too as we imitate God? This would be a dangerous stance to take.

2) If we deny inerrancy, can we really trust anything God says? If it's known that a person is untruthful in one area, we naturally tend to question everything that person says. Denying inerrency will cause us to question portions of the Bible that we disagree with or that are inconvenient for us.

3) A denial of inerrancy makes our brains a higher standard of truth than God's word. We would be saying that we know better than God in some areas.

4) In denying inerrancy, we have to say that the Bible is wrong in its doctrine about the truthfulness and reliability of God's word which would be a major doctrinal concern.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

Well said, Miriam !

Love, Mom