Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Since God is perfect, the Bible is inerrant

Titus 1:2 "in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie,promised long ages ago."

When we consider the character of the books of the Bible and when we claim that all together the sixty-six books are the Word of God, we necessarily are basing such claims off of their being of Divine origin. At the heart of the Christian faith is the idea that God is a talking God that has revealed His power in creation, His Presence in the incarnation of Jesus Christ and His purposes in a book - the Bible. God by nature is Holy, Perfect and without flaw. (Isaiah 6; Habakkuk 1:13) Through the scriptures themselves we discover explicit statements that verify the fact that God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18-19) but always tells the truth and reigns over His world by the basis of truth (Psalm 89:14). 

The character of God is the basis for any belief in the doctrine of the Bible's character as a 100% truthful document without error (hence inerrancy). Today's post will consider scriptures that assert the character of God as perfect, flawless and always telling the truth as being the basis for the doctrine of inerrancy, and by claiming the Bible as God's revealed book, what it is only fitting to deem it the inerrant and infallible Word of God. 

Bible Scholars weigh in on connecting God's character supply the character of scripture as the basis for asserting Biblical inerrancy
Henry Theissen in his "Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, page 109, gives this clear statement: "Will not God, Who has provided so abundantly for man's lower needs, provide also for his higher? It seems that the answer must be an abundant yes. God being such a God as that (person, almighty, holy and loving) may be expected to make His standards and plan of salvation known." Theissen then quotes another theologian, W.G.T Shedd, who states: "Hence it is more natural to suppose that a prophet or an apostle who has received directly from God a profound and mysterious truth inaccesible to the human intellect, will not be left to his own unassisted powers in imparting what He has received. Especially is it improbable that communications from the deity would be veiled in extravagant and legendary costume." Dr. Norman Geisler and William E. Nix in their book: A General Introduction to the Bible, page 49, note: "In order to demonstrate the divine authority of the Scriptures, it must be shown that the Bible has a divine claim corroborated by a divine character and supported by divine credentials."  All of these scholars are in essence saying that because God is truthful and reveals Himself, the Book which He has revealed in written form came through His prophets and apostles as completely truthful (or inerrant).

God in the Person of the Father cannot lie, thus the Bible is inerrant
Numbers 23:19 states - “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" God is One God Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is equally a sharer in the fullness and oneness of Deity. Hence, whenever we say that the Father (alluded to here in Numbers 23:19 and in Titus 1:2) cannot lie, we are necessarily saying that whatever He says will be without error. The statements we find with reference to God's perfection lead to the main point of His revealed words being without error. If we were to track this out logically, we could note the following:

Premise #1 God is a God that cannot lie and thus is without error

Premise #2 Anything spoken or recorded in written form from the One, true, Perfect God is without error, being that God cannot lie

Premise #3 The Bible is the only book, that contains fulfilled prophecy, unparalleled unity, correct explanations of history and the power to convert sinners, which are marks of Divine revelation

Premise #4 Divine revelation can only come from One source, God

Therefore: The Bible is without error and cannot lie, thus always truthful (i.e inerrant)

The Person of the Son cannot lie, hence the Bible is without error
Jesus Christ is the only perfect human being who ever lived. Furthermore, He being also God at the same time means He cannot lie. Jesus as God in human flesh asserts that the scriptures are about Him (Luke 24:44); cannot be broken (John 10:35) and retain their authority as Divine scripture throughout all the ages (Matthew 5:18). Jesus' Divine character and perfect human character is tied to the character of scripture itself. Scholar Dr. Daniel Wallace observes in a blogpost he wrote in his blogsite, - "At bottom, the reason I hold to a high bibliology is because I hold to a high Christology (the branch of theology dealing with the Person and work of Jesus Christ). Jesus often spoke of the Bible in terms that went beyond the reverence that the Pharisees and Sadducees had for the text. They added traditions to the Bible, or truncated the canon, or otherwise failed to handle scripture appropriately. Jesus had a high view of the text, and it strikes me that I would be unwise to have a view different from his. Indeed, I believe I would be on dangerous ground if I were to take a different view of the text than Jesus did. Thus, my starting point for a high bibliology is Christ himself." This is highly important to recognize, since whatever is said about Jesus is said about the scriptures, since both are recognized by the title "The Word". (John 1:1,14; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 4:12)

The Person of the Holy Spirit cannot lie, hence the scriptures are inerrant
1 Samuel 15:29 states - "Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”  Jesus states in John 16:13ff that the Spirit of truth will come to guide His people into all truth. According to 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21, the Holy Spirit is identified as the chief Agent behind the production of scripture through the Prophets and Apostles. When the original documents were penned by these men, the Holy Spirit Himself insured that they were without error. 

Closing thoughts
Today's post aimed to show the reader why belief in Biblical inerrancy must begin with the fundamental assumption of God being a truth-telling, never lying God. The affirmation of Biblical inerrancy in the original manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments, along with such authority that flows down through their copies and translations, is a by-product of the belief that God indeed revealed and inspired them. I close today with this exerpt from the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message which connects biblical inerrancy to God's character: "The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter."