The inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible is a doctrine of the Church which should be re-visited.
What Are We to Make of It?
The Bible, the sacred book for all Christians, has been under attack for at least the 5+ decades I have been reading it.
Attacks come from atheists as well as scholars both inside and outside Christianity.
Now the Bible is being viewed as something to be ignored within a large segment of the Church, which is sad to see, but it is nonetheless expected.
There are various reasons for this, but I only want to mention one before discussing the main topic of inerrancy and inspiration.
Paul warned the ministers of the Church to not wrangle about words, which will lead to the destruction of those who are on the outside of the conversation.
Remind them of these things,
and charge them before God not to quarrel about words,
which does no good,
but only ruins the hearers.
There is much talk about words—which words belong in the Bible and which do not.
There is much talk about words—which words are mis-translated.
There is much talk about words—those which mean one thing in one language and something else in another.
To be fair, when these things are discussed by the scholars, there is a benefit to be gained.
However, many times someone will take a piece of their discussion, share it publicly and make it the “present truth.”
Those not skilled in letters or those with less education and not knowing how to go deeper, take these things and promote them far and wide without consideration as to whom may be listening.
This is what Paul was referring to.
I know some will argue, but I am coming from a place where I have a little understanding about education.
When a five-year-old asks where babies come from, that does not mean they are ready for a complete description of the sex act replete with ‘penis’, ‘vagina’ and accompanying photos.
Neither would it be wise to have this discussion with your 16-year-old while the five-year-old is present.
This is what is being missed and ignored in today’s discussions about the place of the Bible in our life.
The ubiquity of social media allows us to spout off about whatever is on our mind without concern for whom may be affected by our speech.
As a teacher, I must be concerned with this at all times even though I often forget. (Ja. 3:1) What I say and how I say it are important considerations for teachers.
Of course, no amount of pre-consideration and thought will guarantee that I will not be misunderstood. Jesus was misunderstood and I do not even begin to measure up to His level of teaching.
Therefore, I am entering this discussion on inerrancy and inspiration with a little hesitancy, because the possibility of being misunderstood is almost guaranteed.
It should also be recognized that I will not treat it as thoroughly as a scholar.
is the belief that the Bible “is without error or fault in all its teaching”; or, at least, that “Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact”.
(Wikipedia, “Biblical Inerrancy”, 12/2/22)
The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.
(The Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 1:8 (1648), from Wikipedia, “Verbal, Plenary Inspiration” 12/2/22)
It needs to be noticed that the Westminster Confession states that God has maintained careful watch over His word through all the centuries so that there is no error in them.
Much scholarship has served to prove this to not be the case, for there are differences in the manuscripts now available to us.
These manuscripts are the basis for whatever translation you may prefer.
Different manuscripts were used for the King James Version than were used for the New International Version than were used for the English Standard Version.
Each of these translations are the work of a group of scholars working together to produce the “most accurate translation” possible.
The result is that there is no guarantee—other than blind faith and acceptance—that these translations are the revealed word of God.
Many people fight against this reality as if there is a need to defend God for some reason, but it is mainly that they do not want to be forced to consider any alternative.
Many think that this kind of admission is tantamount to denying the Bible, but it is not.
One can hold to the possibility of inexactitude in the Bible and also hold the Bible as a book worth considering.
Do We Have a Perfect Bible?
Recognizing that we do not have a PERFECT Bible, helps us to be able to deal with many of the contradictions contained therein. Otherwise, we tend to dodge the issue by saying, “It’s not really a contradiction. We just don’t understand it.”
The Problem With Inerrancy & Inspiration
Because these concepts have been ‘hammered’ into the populace for decades from our pulpits, people feel as if any question raised about the Bible is an indication of heresy.
The average Bible reader is convinced with the statement, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”
While that sounds honorable, it leaves out much of what is necessary in order to avoid being deceived, which is one of the greatest fears of those who must defend God and His Bible against the world.
This same group of people have also been brought up on having “proof texts” to support whatever doctrine is being taught.
Any casual reading of the Bible should reveal that there are verses which teach something different from whatever text one is using.
This is the reason Calvinists differ with Arminians and Universalists differ with both.
Pick your church, pick your doctrine, there is someone who will show you a verse which seems to contradict what you have picked.
However, for those locked into the concepts of inerrancy and inspiration, there is no way they can consider an alternative view once they have arrived at a conclusion.
This is quite sad, and has contributed to the loss of faith in the church within the world.
This attitude hinders us from being like the Bereans and searching “the Scriptures to see if these things are so.” (Acts 17:11)
We only search the scriptures to prove that they are wrong.
Another problem with these two concepts being held so strongly is that it has caused people to believe that “the whole Bible is for the whole man.”
It is the “whole Bible” part that is rendering us as a group to not be given a hearing.
When we think that way, we find ourselves advocating a God who is vengeful, wrathful, ticked off at the slightest provocation.
We mix Old Testament concepts with New Testament realities, and end up with a mishmash of rules, regulations, and misunderstandings.
If we cannot accept the fact that the OT has been done away in Jesus’ death, then we will forever be fighting against ourselves and others as we try to explain the meaning of the Bible.
The Meaning of The Bible
Open your Bible to the very beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. Now turn back one page and you should see something to the effect that says The New Testament.
Our understanding is that everything that came before Matthew is called the Old Testament and everything from Matthew 1:1 to the end of Revelation is the New Testament.
However, the writer of Hebrews says something different.
For where a will is involved,
the death of the one who made it must be established.
For a will takes effect only at death,
since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
(Heb 9:16-17 ESV)
The word ‘will’ is ‘testament’ in the KJV. Will, Covenant and Testament are each the same in meaning.
The New Testament did not come into being until Jesus died. And when He died, the Old Testament was rendered obsolete.
In speaking of a new covenant,
he makes the first one obsolete.
And what is becoming obsolete
and growing old
is ready to vanish away.
(Heb 8:13 ESV)
We can see, therefore, that the OT is no longer valid for us who are living under the blessings of the New Covenant.
It is also necessary to consider the full meaning of the death of Jesus establishing a new and different covenant.
Where does this place the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?
These are the stories of Jesus’ ministry while He was alive.
Jesus brought a period of transition between the OT and the NT, but those records are not a part of the New Covenant, because Jesus had not yet died.
I have only skimmed the surface in this article.
I have tried to prove very little by way of quoting other sources.
My purpose at this time is to give the reader something to think about, to meditate on, to hold before the Lord in prayer, because there is the possibility of this being more than you were ready to receive right now.
There is also the possibility that I could be wrong.
However, if I am correct in my understanding and presentation thus far, then there are things that will change in your thinking and understanding.
Sometimes this can create a major upheaval in our minds as we begin to think of so many things that seem to contradict, but also don’t make sense. I have been there often, but I have learned to give it time.
The Holy Spirit will make the way plain.
If this is beginning to make sense, then you will probably find yourself reading the Bible differently.
There will be very little focus on what is contained in the OT, except for the wisdom literature of Psalms, Proverbs, SoS and Ecclesiastes.
When this happens, the way will be opened for you to begin to understand the depths of the New Covenant which God has established for you.