When studying the bible, it is important to consider the idea of its authority. Authority, as it refers to the written word of the Bible and the fact that it can be trusted and substantially proven as true. Inerrancy and Inspiration provide keys to the authority of the Bible.
Inspiration is the process through which God provided the Bible. God worked in the hearts and through the hands of human writers to inspire them to write down his words in a perfect, infallible and trustworthy way that provided the Bible in its entirety, directly from God's mouth. This idea is confirmed, as internal evidence, in 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT) "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives." Outside of providing an authoritative guide book for a Christian life, the Bible also provides an "authentic embodiment of God's self-disclosure (Elwell,W. pp.153; 2001)." It would be difficult to argue that anyone could posses a greater authority on God than God himself.
Inerrancy provides a view on biblical authority that considers not only the original manuscript to be true and correct, but also each subsequent translation, as well. With interpretation being subject to our fallible human nature, there are some wide spread concerns about inerrancy as an evidence of biblical authority. While inspiration provides that the Bible is true and perfect as the authentic God breathed word, inerrancy leaves it open for human error in print and republication of God's original teachings.
Five main arguments can be examined when looking into the infallibility of inerrancy. The epistemologies of the Bible suggest that it is inerrant because it is beyond direct verification. Although archaeology can provide exemplary evidence to support the existence of biblically listed people and places, the direct details of their stories may never be able to be scientifically proven. Inerrancy would suggest that such additional confirmation is simply not required when considering the Bible to be authoritative. "A single error in the Bible should not lead one to conclude that the Bible contains no truth (Elwell, W. pp158; 2001)."
God being omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent also provide a good argument for inerrancy, because God knows all things, everywhere, at all times his ultimate authority over sees all things biblical. Calvin himself suggested that because of this, the Bible did not need to be scientifically proven in order to be considered true in God's sight and with his authority. Jesus Christ also suggested that the authority he taught under was God's own authority and the teachings of Jesus Christ directly pointed back to the Old Testament books of the Bible, quoting "it is written" multiple times as he did in Matthew 4:4.
For centuries, the church has considered the Bible to be authoritative, long before the idea behind its inerrancy came out of growing biblical criticism. Despite the argument that the Bible does not point directly towards its own inerrancy, the theologians of the church believed it to be inerrant.
Although inerrancy fails to recognize the element for human error, it needs to be considered that extreme care went into the copying of the scriptures. The earliest Jewish scribes were required to follow a strict code to ensure accuracy in each and every copy of the Bible (Holladay, T. & Warren, K.; 2003).
There are certainly considerations on this matter that the arguments do not discuss, as they further support the idea of inerrancy. Perhaps the most compelling would be the personal evidence of internal change on the part of the believer. 1Peter 1:23 suggests clearly that the inerranical authority of the Bible is responsible for such change when it says "for you have been born again, through the living and enduring word of God." If these were not infallible words born of truth, then the believer would also not be born again through the word of God breathed out into the Bible.
The implications of authority, inspiration and authority are far reaching to the believers life, impacting not only their actions but also their thoughts, views, opinions and emotions regarding such. The believer tends to live their life relying on the authority of the Bible to guide, teach, direct, comfort and heal. 1 Corinthians 2:12 "We can know the wonderful things God has freely given," one of the greatest things he gave was himself, through the Bible.
Word count: # 734
Elwell, Walter (2001) Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic
Holladay, Tom & Warren, Kay (2003) Foundations. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Biblical scholar and multiple online publication author, Heather Moon is a proud mother of 3 specalizing in Christian foundational teaching, women's ministries, family and exceptional living, as an accredited member of the AACC.
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