Saturday, February 2, 2013

My thoughts on the Authority, Inspiration, and Inerrancy of Scripture...

Authority is the power to command obedience, to determine, or to judge. To say that the Bible has authority is to say that it stands alone as the one and only standard for living. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-powerful. Thus God's revealed Word has the right and the power to demand obedience and alignment with its statutes. The Word that proceeds from the mouth of God is inherently authoritative. The Bible also points to God, who is the source of all authority. Both externally, and internally, it is clear that the Bible is the embodiment of God's self disclosure1.” It is the instrument by which humankind measures its existence, and its relationship with the Creator.

Inspiration is the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the writers of scripture that gives their written words the trustworthiness and the authority that comes only from God. I have always held an “all or nothing” view of inspiration. If God only inspired some parts of scripture, then how can we know what parts are inspired? In order for the Bible to be viewed as wholly inspired and infallible, it must be inspired in its entirety. The authors of scripture were not only inspired to write, every word of the ensuing text is inspired by the Spirit. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is God-breathed.” If Paul was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, then God has left us no room to doubt the inspiration of the Bible as a whole. Jesus had no intention to change “one jot or tittle” of the Old Testament. His entire ministry and mission was to fulfill the Old Testament scriptures. The Bible's consistent message of redemption, from beginning to end, points us to one divine author writing through the pens of many different vessels.

Inerrancy is the assertion that the Bible is right and true in every aspect. It contains no mixture of error, and it is authoritative in all realms of life. The original autographs of scripture are entirely true and never false when interpreted correctly. The best and strongest argument for inerrancy is the Biblical argument. From cover to cover, the Bible consistently teaches that it is the Word of God. In some places it is by implication, in others it directly states its own case. For the Bible to claim that it is authoritative, it must be without error. Furthermore, if the tense of a word can transform an entire passage, then every detail must be absolutely correct. The slippery slope argument, which holds that if inerrancy is in doubt then all other doctrine crumbles, is the weakest argument for inerrancy. While inerrancy is fundamental to correct interpretation of scripture, some mixture of correct and incorrect doctrine can still be held. Until all is revealed, no theologian will have every aspect of all doctrine correct.

Scriptural inspiration and scriptural inerrancy are intertwined in God's revelation. God is the source of all truth, and “only speaks truth1.”  In order for God to transmit the truth of his Word through men and produce an infallible product, he must have inspired the authors by his Holy Spirit. It is the only way fallen men could have penned God's perfect Word. Apart from inspired authors, it is illogical and impossible for the Bible as we know it to be inerrant.

My view that the Bible is inspired and written by the Holy Spirit through human authors, authoritative on all aspects of life, and completely true with no mixture of error affects every part of my life. The Bible's teaching has radically transformed the way I view my marriage and my role as husband. It frames every lesson I teach my children and it has shown me the importance of my role as father. God's perfect Word chisels away at my heart every time I dive into it. Something so simple as teaching the Word to a few adults on Sunday morning has forever altered the course of my life. Praise God that his word is living and active. 

Elwell, Walter A. 2001. Evangelical dictionary of theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: Paternoster Press

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