BIBLE, inerrancy of
Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts
Many of us would agree with Peter when he says that parts of Paul's letters are hard to
understand! And there are difficulties and apparent discrepancies in other parts of the
Bible too. On this matter of discrepancies, I remember reading something written by an old
seventeenth-century Puritan named William Bridge. He said that harping on discrepancies
shows a very bad heart, adding: "For a godly man, it should be as it was with Moses.
When a godly man sees the Bible and secular data apparently at odds, well, he does as
Moses did when he saw an Egyptian fighting an Israelite: He kills the Egyptian. He
discounts the secular testimony, knowing God's Word to be true. But when he sees an
apparent inconsistency between two passages of Scripture, he does as Moses did when he
found two Israelites quarreling: he tries to reconcile them. He says, 'Aha, these are
brethren, I must make peace between them.' And that's what the godly man does."
James Packer, Your
Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.
Maria Fedorovna, wife of Czar Alexander III and empress of Russia, once used a comma to
save a prisoner from Siberian exile. Alexander's warrant had read, "Pardon
impossible, to be sent to Siberia." Maria intervened and moved the comma so that the
note read, "Pardon, impossible to be sent to Siberia." The prisoner was
According to Luscher, since 1850 biblical criticism has proposed more than 700
theories, all supposed to be the last word in science. By now more that 600 of these have
become outmoded and discarded in the light of a more enlightened and extended scholarship.
A wealthy woman who was traveling overseas saw a bracelet she thought was irresistible,
so she sent her husband this cable: "Have found wonderful bracelet. Price $75,000.
May I buy it?" Her husband promptly wired back this response: "No, price too
high." But the cable operator omitted the comma, so the woman received this message:
"No price too high." Elated, she purchased the bracelet. Needless to say, at her
return her husband was dismayed. It was just a little thing--a comma--but what a
difference it made!
Leslie B. Flynn, The Twelve.
"I have come to the conviction that no man knows enough to attack the veracity of
the Old Testament. Every time when anyone has been able to get together enough documentary
'proofs' to undertake an investigation, the biblical facts in the original text have
victoriously met the test."
Prof. Robert Dick Wilson of Princeton, who held several
doctorates and knew 45 languages and dialects of the Near East, as quoted in R.
Inspiration and Authority of Scripture.
For practical purposes the words infallible and inerrant are interchangeable. When we
apply them to the Bible, what we are saying is that only those who accept as from God all
that Scripture proves to tell us, promise us, or require of us, can ever fully please him.
Both words thus have religious as well as theological significance; their function is to
impose on our handling of the Bible a procedure which expresses faith in the reality and
veracity of the God who speaks to us in and through what it says and who requires us to
heed every word that proceeds from his mouth. This procedure requires us not to deny,
disregard, or arbitrarily relativize anything that the writers teach or to discount any of
the practical implications for worship and service which their teaching carries or to cut
the knot of any problem of Bible harmony, factual or theological, by allowing ourselves to
assume that the writers were not necessarily consistent with themselves or with each
For me to confess that Scripture is infallible and inerrant is to bind myself in
advance to follow the method of harmonizing and integrating all that Scripture declares,
without exception, I must believe that it is from God, however little I may like it, and
whatever change of present beliefs, ways, and commitments it may require, and I must
actively seek to live by it.
James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers,
STATISTICS AND STUFF
The end result of all of this is sadly illustrated in the book, Reforming
Fundamentalism, by George A. Marsden, which informs that 85% of the students in one of
America's largest evangelical seminaries stated that they do not believe in the inerrancy
of Scripture. Beyond that, a poll of 10,000 U.S.A. clergymen (of whom 74% replied) by
sociologist Jeffery Hadden in 1987 clearly reveals the effects of this significant change
of belief through the passage of time. When asked if they believed that the Scriptures are
the inspired and inerrant Word of God in faith, history, and secular matters:
95% of Episcopalians said "No."
87% of Methodists said "No."
82% of Presbyterians said "No."
77% of American Lutherans said "No."
67% of American Baptists said "No."
This sad commentary speaks for itself.
January, 1994, pp. 12-13.