The Scripture: Inerrant, Infallible, and Authoritative

PackerFriends,

I’m trying to go to bed, but I keep coming across stuff that I want to blog about for a minute or two. Last week (Wed-Fri) I began my seminary classes. While there, I visited the school library and discovered a book sale was taking place. I rummaged around and eventually came across a small book book published 27 years ago by JI Packer titled, Beyond the Battle For the Bible. (Evidently, you can still pick it up at Amazon.) I’m going to put a couple of his quotes below.

Yesterday, I blogged a little about some comments made at another blog and to make a long story short, we ended up discussing the accuracy of the Bible. For one reason or another, this friend of mine is convinced that certain parts of the Bible are simply untrustworthy because they are somewhat inaccurate or contradictory.

This morning, in my Wo.R.D. class (Bible School) we were studying Genesis chapter 3, the chapter of the fall of man (and woman). Interestingly enough, the first words out of the serpent’s mouth were these: “Did God really say…?” Funny that when the devil made his appearance on earth the first thing he did was call God’s Word into question. Has he changed his approach?

Tonight, I was hopping around one last time before I shut down for the day when I came across this interview of Dr John MacArthur. In this interview he says, in part, concerning the ‘Emergent Church Movement’:

While those leading the movement say that the gospel can’t be clearly known, they presume to know one thing for certain: “The Bible doesn’t mean what traditional people think it means.”

The Emerging Church is just one of the latest assaults on the truth and certainty of God’s Word.

“They are saying, in effect, that God may have spoken, but He mumbled, and we’re not really sure what He said. Saying that Scripture is not clear is just another way to undermine biblical authority,” MacArthur explains.

“This is not an intellectual movement. This is not a movement that has discovered evidence that overturns inspiration, evidence that overturns inerrancy or authority. This is a movement born of people who do not want to accept the clarity of Scripture,” says MacArthur.

“It allows them not to take a position on homosexuality, premarital sex, or anything, besides ‘Let’s light some candles and incense, think good thoughts about Jesus, and give to the poor,’” he observes.

As you can see, the assault hasn’t abated, nor have the tactics changed. The serpent is still about the business of asking people, “Did God really say…?”

Yesterday, as I wrote, I quoted some from Packer’s book. You should read the entire post and dialogue I had with ‘Brian’ to get the full flavor of my thoughts. But here’s the bulk of the last post I made:

JI Packer wrote, “You know that for more than three hundred years God-shrinkers have been at work in the churches of the Reformation, scaling down our Maker to the measure of man’s mind and dissolving the Bible view of him as the Lord who reigns and speaks” (Beyond the Battle for the Bible, 11). This is precisely the problem that exists in the church today: Too many ‘Christians’ have asserted that we cannot trust the Bible and thus we must re-write what the Bible says. …

As to your last question, Do I really believe these discussions are a waste of time (although you stated a fact, and did not necessarily ask a question)? Here again is Packer: “I, however, am one of those who think this battle very important, and this is why. Biblical inerrancy and biblical authority are bound up together. Only truth can have final authority to determine belief and behavior, and Scripture cannot have such authority further than it is true. A factually and theologically untrustworthy Bible could still impress us as a presentation of religious experience and expertise, but clearly we cannot claim that it is all God’s testimony and teaching, given to control our convictions and conduct, if we are not prepared to affirm its total truthfulness.” (Beyond the Battle for the Bible, 17)

Furthermore, Jesus himself had no problem accepting that the Scripture was factually accurate. I’ll close with one last thought, because, I hope you will change your mind:

“So the decision facing Christians today [Packer was writing in 1980] is simply: will we take our lead at this point from Jesus and the apostles or not? Will we let ourselves be guided by a Bible received as inspired and therefore wholly true (for God is not the author of untruths), or will we strike out, against our Lord and his most authoritative representatives, on a line of our own? If we do, we have already resolved in principle to be led not by the Bible as given, but by the Bible as we edit and reduce it, and we are likely to be found before long scaling down its mysteries (eg., incarnation and atonement) and relativizing its absolutes (eg., in sexual ethics) in the light of our own divergent ideas.” (Beyond the Battle for the Bible, 19)

I hope this helps you understand why the conversation is not a waste of time and why I am persisting despite your announcement that you will not change your mind. It does matter what we think of the Bible and I think we can see the results in the church of what happens when we reduce the trustworthiness of the Scripture.

To you who read this: The Bible does matter and what we think of it matters too. My contention is that if the Bible is not true from the first verse to the last, then the Bible cannot be trusted at all. If God, for example, did not create, then what is sin? And if there is no sin, then what is redemption in Christ? Or, what matters the cross? Or what of our hope?

It’s sort of strange how I bought this $3 book on Thursday and have benefited from it all weekend long. God certainly does work in strange ways. My hope is that you who read will be encouraged to trust the Word of God in its entirety because you can trust it. Don’t by into all those doubters who keep repeating the devil’s mantra, “Did God really say…?” The Word of God will accomplish the purpose for which God sends it forth. It will not return to Him void. I’ll write to you again tomorrow.

Soli Deo Gloria!

jerry

PS-I am also having an interesting conversation with Jeff over at atheocracy concerning the nature of Scripture and its authority over us and the Church. You should visit Jeff.

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  1. Good post! While I don’t find John MacArthur to be the most accurate souce of information regarding faith groups he disagrees with, your criticism seems fair.

    God bless…




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