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Does The Bible Claim To Be Inerrant

What About Those Who Have Never Heard About Jesus

Peter Enns: Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy

No matter where we go or what subject we are speaking on, this question always seems to come up. Many times it is asked to relieve the individual of any personal responsibility to God.

It must be kept in mind, however, that the answer to this question does not determine whether Christianity is true or not. That matter has already been solved in Jesus Christ by His resurrection from the dead. The matter of authority has been solved once and for all, and this issue of those who havent heard is now merely a matter of interpretation.

The best way to deal with this question is to state certain truths that the Scripture make very plain. The Bible is very clear that no one can come to God except through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, No one comes to the Father except through Me . The only basis for forgiveness of sin and life everlasting is the way made by Jesus. Many people think this implies that those who have never heard about Jesus will be automatically damned. However, we do not know this is the case.

Although the Scriptures never explicitly teach that someone who has never heard of Jesus can be saved, we do believe that it infers this. We do believe that every person will have an opportunity to repent, and that God will not exclude anyone because he happened to be born at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Jesus said, If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself .


Biblical Passages Related To Inerrancy

  • Deutoronomy 17:8-11 explains what you should do when you have cases that are too difficult for you to judge. This includes going to the Levitical priests. Apparently not everything can simply be looked up in the Bible.
    • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has added a book to the Bible. This puts them in the position of having to argue that the apostles listened to god and wrote scripture and that there are living apostles today. Of course they claim the authority to decide who the apostles are.
    • Which translation is inerrant? Translations vary enough to support different doctrines. Political decisions were involved with most translations, especially the King James Version. Canonization of the Christian Bible began after the first century and continued for 200 years. Many people will argue that these facts are not important. Most likely they will not be aware of them.

    Inerrancy Sums Up What The Bible Says About God And His Word

    A close examination of the evidence will show that the doctrine of inerrancy logically follows what the Bible says about God and itself.

    This can be seen in the following ways: First, Gods character is absolutely perfectthere are no flaws in it. Next, we find that God told certain of the biblical authors exactly what to say, and what to write. Since these words would have come directly from God, they would have been without any imperfection and error. Third, the Scriptures directly testify that Gods words are without errorHe does not lie. Fourth, all Scripture ultimately derives from the perfect, holy God who does not lie. Finally, the Bible emphasizes that Gods Word is the only standard of truth.

    The biblical evidence for this is as follows:

    1. Gods Character Is One of Absolute Perfection

    The idea that Scripture is without any error is consistent with the character of God. We find the Scripture emphasizing that Gods character is one of absolute perfectionHe is faithful and true. Paul wrote to the Romans about Gods faithfulness:

    Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.

    The New Living Translation says it this way:

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    The Human And The Divine United In Gods Word

    For nearly a century liberal, critical scholars have stressed the diversity in the documents of the Scriptures, but current theological thinking contains a renewed emphasis on the essential unity of the Bible. Its great unifying principle, its central theme, is the plan of salvation and the working out of that plan in human history. However, the unity of the Bible must not be interpreted as uniformity. In the various books of the Scriptures the plan of salvation is viewed from various angles and stress is laid on various aspects, with varying emphasis.

    Like its author, Jesus Christ, the Bible is the result of a mysterious combination of the divine and the human. Just as the human mind is incapable of fully explaining how Jesus, the divine Son of God, could become a man and live with us on earth, so it cannot fully explain the Bibles unity of the divine and the human. In writing the various books of the Bible, the authors own personalities had full play, and their own style and vocabulary are reflected in the finished product. Yet the Bible, is nevertheless given by inspiration of God . While men did the writing, they did so as they were moved by the Holy Spirit . Therefore, in a special sense the Bible is the Word of God.

    What Makes The Bible So Special


    Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible alone is the revealed Word of God. Even though it was written by men, the ultimate author was God Almighty. This claim was not invented by the Church, but is the claim the Bible makes for itself.

    The word of the Lord endures forever . All Scripture is God-breathed . For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost .

    Over 2,000 times in the Old Testament alone there are clauses such as, And God spoke to Moses, the word of the Lord came unto Jonah, and God said. Moreover, the Bible claims to be a record of the words and deeds of God, thus the Bible views itself as Gods Word.

    The mere fact that the Bible claims to be the Word of God does not prove that it is such, for there are other books that make similar claims. The difference is that the Scriptures contain convincing evidence as being the Word of God.

    One reason that the Bible is different from other books is its unity. Although this book was composed by men, its unity reveals the hand of the Almighty. The Bible was written over a period of about 1,500 years by more than forty different human authors. These authors came from a variety of backgrounds, including Joshua , Daniel , Peter , and Nehemiah .

    In another place: And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself .

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    Why Does This Matter

    If the Bible is fallible, we as Christians have nothing on which to base our beliefs. We can only know Gods character, His plan, or His desires for us and the kingdom through His revelation to us we are incapable of knowing Him by our own effort. We dont possess the innate ability to discern truth from error regarding God, and if the Bible is mixed with said truth and error, it would be impossible to distinguish whats true and whats false.

    Imagine watching a person from a distance and trying to know them personally. You can make endless speculations about their behaviors but there would be no reason to think you know them. Only as they get closer and reveal themselves to you can you know who they are. If this is true of people, how much more of God?

    We trust Gods attributesHis holinessand His whole character. He is the very source of truth. He defines our reality by His Word . It is because of this we can trust we possess His unfailing Word. To say the Bible can mislead or deceive someone is like saying God is not Who He says He is.

    God shares some of His attributes with His human creation , yet Gods very nature is on trial to those who do not believe the Bible is His infallible Word.

    God encompasses some attributes which belong to Him alone.

    He is:

    What Is Biblical Inerrancy

    Biblical Inerrancy is simply the teaching that the Bible is without fault or error in everything that it teaches or affirms.

    This is, by nature, a binary issue. The Bible is either inerrant or it is not. It cannot be partially inerrant, since that would be the same thing as being errant. The 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy captures the mainstream Christian position on this issue. For our purposes, heres a simple definition of the two possible positions:

    The Bible is Inerrant The Bible is not Inerrant
    The Bible was written by men but superintended by the Holy Spirit and is, therefore, without error or fault in all that it teaches or affirms. The Bible is a collection of writings from good but fallible men. Therefore, some of the things it teaches or affirms may be wrong.

    Lets take a brief look at four aspects of this issue.

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    Criticisms Of Biblical Inerrancy

    Proponents of biblical inerrancy refer to 2 Timothy 3:16“all scripture is given by inspiration of God”as evidence that the whole Bible is inerrant. However, critics of this doctrine think that the Bible makes no direct claim to be inerrant or infallible. Indeed, in context, this passage refers only to the Old Testament writings understood to be scripture at the time it was written.

    The idea that the Bible contains no mistakes is mainly justified by appeal to proof-texts that refer to its divine inspiration. However, this argument has been criticized as circular reasoning, because these statements only have to be accepted as true if the Bible is already thought to be inerrant. Moreover, no biblical text says that because a text is inspired, it is therefore always correct in its historical or even its moral statements.

    The Textual Evidence Before Us Makes An Inerrant Bible Text Untenable

    The Seventh-day Adventist Church Claims to be the Remnant Church of Bible Prophecy. Is it True?

    Some Christians claim the Bible texts, at least in their pristine form, were inerrant. Therefore, it is incorrect for Joseph Smith to teach that the Bible contains errors, mistakes, or omissions.

    The textual evidence before us makes an inerrant Bible text untenable. Furthermore, the doctrine of inerrancy is not a Biblical doctrine, and so can only be imposed upon the text from outside, not drawn out of the teachings of the purportedly “inerrant Bible.”

    The Latter-day Saint stance of honoring the Bible and seeking to understand it, while appreciating that it is the Word of God only insofar as fallible humans have faithfully transmitted that Word to us, is consistent with both Biblical teaching and the evidence available to us.

    Insisting on Biblical infallibility is a theological and ideological presupposition, not a natural consequence of Bible teachings.

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    Does The Bible Testify To Its Own Inerrancy

    Answering Bible Difficulties Question 3

    Christians have often been accused of claiming something about the Bible that it does not claim for itselfthat it is inerrant. Indeed, the term, inerrancy is not found in Scripture. Neither is the doctrine of inerrancy directly taught.

    It would be terrible if Christians claimed more for the Bible than what it claims for itself. On the other hand, it would be equally tragic if Christians claimed less for the Bible than the Scripture claims for itself. What then, does the Scripture say about the subject?

    All Correct Or Else Not Correct

    Some have felt that if the Bible is not correct in every detail, then it cant be relied upon. However, the all or nothing position is not a biblical one, even if it has been proclaimed by great men and spiritual giants. John Wesley, for example, wrote in his journal for August 24, 1776: Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth. However, Paul tells us, But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and useless . He also counsels us not to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith .

    Once we get over the need to harmonize all the biblical details, fear disappears, and we can turn to the all-important task of listening to the essential message of Scripture, seeking to understand Gods will so that His truth can live in us. Whatever minor contradictions may seem to exist in the Bible, God has apparently let creep in. So although there may be minor discrepancies or details in the Bible, we can trust its teachings completely. Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away before any of it would fail .

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    Inerrancy Governs Our Faith In The Value Of Christ

    We cannot have a reliable Savior without a reliable Scripture. If, as many suggest, the stories in the Gospels are not historically true and the recorded words of Christ are only occasionally His, how do we know what we can trust about Christ? Must we rely upon the conflicting interpretations of a host of critical scholars before we know what Christ was like or what He taught? If the Gospel stories are merely the result of the wishful thinking of the church in the second or third centuries, or even the personal views of the Gospel writers, then our faith no longer rests upon Jesus but upon the opinions of men. Who would trust an unreliable Savior for their eternal salvation?

    The Inerrancy Of The Bible

    Understanding the Bible: Why I Dont Like the Term Inerrancy ...

    The Bible is inspired, but is it inerrant, that is without errors? The reason for a positive answer is simple: The Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot err therefore, the Bible cannot err. To deny the inerrancy of the Bible one must either affirm that God can err or else that the Bible is not the Word of God.

    God Cannot Err

    The Scriptures declare emphatically that it is impossible for God to lie . Paul speaks of the God who does not lie . He is a God who, even if we are faithless, He remains faithful He cannot deny Himself . God is truth ,and so is His Word. Jesus said to the Father, Your word is truth . The psalmist exclaimed, The entirety of Your word is truth .

    The Bible is the Word of God

    Jesus referred to the Old Testament as the Word of God which cannot be broken . He said, Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished . Paul added, All Scripture is God-breathed . It came from of the mouth of God . Although human authors recorded the messages, prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit .

    The Logical Conclusion: The Bible Cannot Err

    Yes, God has spoken, and He has not stuttered. The God of truth has given us the Word of Truth, and it does not contain any untruth in it. The Bible is the unerring Word of God.

    What About Science and History?

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    Do I Have To Believe The Bible Is Inerrant To Be Saved

    Inerrancy is a test for orthodoxy, but it is not a test for salvation. Believing the Bible is inerrant does not determine the fate of your salvation, but it will impact your understanding of salvation and spiritual growth.

    The Bible is a unique book. Comprised of texts from 40 authors written within a timeframe of about 2000 years on three different continents, the Bible presents a consistent message of who God is, who people are in relationship to God, and Gods redemptive plan for humanity. To have such unity in its diversity is supernatural. A Christians faith is grounded in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ as found in Scripture, and He is our only hope of salvation. A key doctrine that undergirds this faith is the belief the Bible is inerrant. Biblical inerrancy asserts the intended meaning of the original authors writing imparts no untrue message. Whatever the original writers sought to communicatewhether its a historical event, theological truth, or anything elseis entirely true.

    Was Mark The First Gospel

    The theory that Marks Gospel was the first to be written is based upon several arguments. Most of the material contained in Mark can be found in Matthew and Luke. It is easier for some to believe that Matthew and Luke expanded Mark rather than that Mark abbreviated Matthew and Luke.

    Sometimes Matthew and Luke agree with Mark in the actual words used, but they never agree with each other when differing from Mark. This would seem to prove that both Matthew and Luke depended upon Mark to get their information.

    The order of events in Mark seems to be original. Wherever Matthews order differs from Mark, the Gospel of Luke supports Marks order, and whenever Luke differs from Marks order, Matthew agrees with Mark. This shows that Mark was composed first, and that Matthew and Luke are merely following his order, seeing that they never agree with each other against Mark.

    Mark also reveals a primitive nature when compared to the other two Gospels. Mark, for example, uses the word kurie only one time while Matthew employs it nineteen times and Luke sixteen times. This fact indicates an attitude of reverence which eventually developed in the later Gospels.

    As for Matthew and Luke never agreeing word for word against Mark in parallel passages, there can be found passages where they agree where Mark contains something different, showing non-dependence on Mark.

    The theory of the priority of Mark is anything but an established fact.

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