Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Authority and Inerrancy of the Bible

Chapter two of Wayne Grudem's book Bible Doctrine examines the Bible's authority and if it can be trusted as inerrant. The first 3 of 6 review questions and my answers follow:

1. Defend the following statement: "All the words in Scripture are God's words."

In many places, the Bible claims to have a record of God's words. Old Testament prophets often used the phrase, 'Thus says the Lord" and in many places what the Prophets said are referred to as being words that God spoke through the prophet (1 Kings 14:18, Jer 37:2, etc). Although those verses don't claim that all the words in the old testament are God's words, they do demonstrate that we actually have a written record of God's own words. Other passages state that the Book of the covenant or God's laws are considered to be God's words as well (Ex. 24:7). Verses like 2 Tim 3:16 and 2 Pet 1:20-21 in the New testament indicate that all the Old Testament are God's words. The word Scripture used in the New Testament refers to the Old Testament writings and not to any sayings that are recorded in books not part of the canon. In 2 Pet 3:15-16, Peter refers to all the letters that Paul wrote as something that people distort as they do "other scriptures." This comparison classifies the writing of Paul as equal with the old testament scriptures. Paul does a similar thing when he quotes twice from the "scriptures" in 1 Tim 5:18 - one quote is from Deuteronomy and the other from Luke. So in this, we find that at least one of the gospels was also classified as scripture. Therefore, the writers of the New Testament appear to be well aware that more writings were being added to the category of scripture which contain God's own words.

We become convinced that the Bible contains God's words by the Holy Spirit speaking in and through the words of the Bible as we read them. This doesn't happen unless we take the time to actually read what the Bible says. Then we will realize that the Bible is not like any other book, but actually God's words speaking to our hearts.

It's also useful to know that there are external evidences of the truth of the bible through the fulfilled prophecies, changed lives, and accurate historical information.

2. What is meant by the idea that the words of Scripture are "self-attesting"?

If we believe that the Bible is the highest authority, it's impossible to find a higher authority to use a proof that the Bible is God's word. Using human logic or science to try to prove the Bible makes those things to be more reliable or truthful than the Bible. So, the Scripture must be the ultimate authority to prove the Scripture is God's Word.

It does seem to be a circular argument, but that doesn't make it invalid. One must appeal to the highest authority for proof or else it wouldn't be the highest authority. Everyone actually uses this type of circular argument to justify their beliefs: Reason is justified as ultimate authority because it is reasonable; Logic is thought to be highest because it seems logical; human experiences are justified as the only authority for truth because human experiences show a person that is true. So if we all use circular logic when defending a belief in our ultimate authority, how can a person find truth?

In the end, the Bible will show itself to be far more persuasive in it's truth than other religious books or intellectual reason. All other options have inconsistencies and shortcomings while the Bible will prove to be accurate in all its teachings about the world, about us and about God. Since we are sinful, our perceptions are faulty so this will really only happen as the Holy Spirit enables us to be persuaded that the Bible is God's word and is true. So, more knowledge of the Bible and a correct understanding of God and creation together confirm the accuracy of each other. Creation doesn't prove the Bible, but it does give us a greater assurance that the Bible is really the only truly ultimate authority.

3. How can we know God's words are truthful?

If the Bible does indeed contain God's words as argued above, we can be sure of their truthfulness only if we can be sure that God always tells the truth. We learn in the Bible that God doesn't lie in Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18. So if God can't lie, then then his word's (the scriptures) must be truthful and without error. The Bible is not just true, but it is actually the ultimate standard of truth itself (see John 17:17). So, there will never be a fact of science or history ever discovered that will contradict the Bible. God has known everything forever so he will not be contradicted by any new human discovery. It is possible that man has incorrectly interpreted the Bible to say something that it did not teach so we must reexamine the Bible when what are thought to be new facts are discovered that seem to contradict the bible to see if the facts are false of if man's interpretations of the Bible are false.

----- the next 3 questions will come hopefully sometime soon this week. After an hour of answering these questions, I feel the need to stop and do something else since my brain is tired!


Luke said...

I can't remember, are you reading this for "fun" or for a Bible study? This is some intense stuff! Way to go you! :)


Miriam said...

It's a great book! I've really enjoyed reading it and hashing through the questions so far. I'm doing it for fun. It's a book that I've wanted to study for a couple years and now is the time! Ivory may start studying it with me sometime. Also, Anna and Dad are planning to use the book for her Bible curriculum this year.

I've never studied systematic theology or Bible doctrine in a class so I think I will continue to learn a lot through the book. Hopefully those who read this blog won't get tired of all the review questions!

Elijah Lofgren said...

> Hopefully those who read this blog won't get tired of all the review questions!

Quite the contrary. I've really enjoyed reading them! Thanks for sharing them with us. Although I'm not studying the book, I look forward to learning some of what it teaches by reading your blog. :)

See you soon,