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Why should Christians affirm the inerrancy of Scripture?

By Prof. Dan Lioy, Senior Research Manager, SATS Postgraduate School

One of the reasons SATS exists is to ‘provide’ believers with opportunities for ‘Christian education and training’ while remaining part of their ‘local churches’. 1 This purpose statement stands on the ‘triune doctrinal foundation’ of SATS. 2 The first principle affirms a two-fold, high view of Scripture, as follows:

  1. the ‘Bible is the only written revelation of and from God’; and,
  2. God’s Word is ‘all we need for faith and life’.

The inerrancy of Scripture is pivotal to the above doctrinal stance upheld by SATS. Let’s take a moment to define what inerrancy means. Specifically, the Scriptures, in the words of the original manuscripts, are absolutely truthful and perfectly accurate in all they affirm. 3

Regrettably, numerous theologically liberal church groups in the global north reject inerrancy. Just as stark, there are members of conservative faith communities in the global south who at times teach and act in ways that represent a practical denial of this doctrine.

Clearly, an ongoing need exists to raise awareness of this issue within the worldwide body of Christ. 4

Second Timothy 3:16 is a foundational passage that supports the inerrancy of Scripture. 5 Paul literally declared that ‘all Scripture is inspired by God’. 6 The Greek adjective rendered ‘inspired’ means ‘God-breathed’. 7 Expressed differently, the Creator of the universe is the origin and divine author of Scripture.

It’s important to clarify that, on the one hand, the Spirit supernaturally directed the Bible’s human authors; yet, on the other hand, He did not override their aptitudes and writing styles. The result is that God’s own complete and coherent message to humankind was recorded with perfect accuracy. 8

The doctrine of inerrancy (along with inspiration) extends equally and absolutely to all portions of Scripture. All the books of the Bible are error-free in what they teach, and this involves every aspect of them. It is not restricted to moral and religious truths, but even extends to the statement of facts.

As Paul wrote about the divine origin of Scripture, he declared that its study and application is eternally beneficial. For instance, God’s Word is immeasurably useful for teaching sound doctrine and for showing people where they have strayed from the truth. The Bible is also efficacious for correcting sinful behavior and training people how to live in an upright manner.

Moreover, we learn from verse 16 that God’s Word is supremely authoritative. This means it possesses the right to define what we believe and how we behave. Indeed, verse 17 discloses that when Scripture is consistently heeded, believers will be thoroughly prepared and furnished to undertake all sorts of beneficial acts for God’s glory. 9

There is no substitute, then, for the inerrant Scriptures when it comes to combatting false teaching, learning the ways of the Lord, and ministering to others in need. On the downside, we insult God, deceive ourselves, and cheat others when we fail to study the Bible diligently and obey it wholeheartedly. On the upside, when God’s Word fills our lives, the spiritual benefits overflow to a world in need of the Bible’s saving message.

In summary, apart from the Judeo-Christian canon, there is no other inerrant beacon to guide people to an eternally safe harbor.

1 The full text concerning why SATS exists can be found here: https://www.sats.edu.za/about-us/sats- why-we-exist/#2

2 The full text of the three foundational principles affirmed by SATS can be found here: https://www.sats.edu.za/about-us/statement- faith/

3 For a comprehensive explanation of this doctrine, see the 1978 Chicago statement on biblical inerrancy, which can be found here: http://library.dts.edu/Pages/TL/Special/ICBI_1.pdf.

4 For a detailed consideration of the inerrancy of Scripture from an apologetic perspective, see the two-part video presentation made by James White at Cape Town in 2016. Part 1 can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agUaq7bXxLY. Part 2 can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJVeHZFjA2Y&spfreload=10.

5 Other passages of Scripture worth exploring include the following: Matt 4:4; 5:18; Luke 24:27, 44; John 10:35; 1 Cor 2:10–12; 1 Tim 5:18; 2 Pet 1:20–21; 3:15–16.

6 NA28 reads as follows: πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος. See http://www.nestle-aland.com/en/read-na28-online/text/bibeltext/lesen/stelle/65/30001/39999/.

7 See Swenson J 2001. Dictionary of biblical languages: Greek New Testament. Bellingham: Logos Research Systems.

8 What follows in this blogpost is an adaptation of material I wrote for the David C. Cook Lesson Commentary: September 2008–August 2008 (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2007, pgs. 43–4). Used by permission of the publisher.

9 For a definitive study on the inerrancy Scripture written by various evangelical scholars, see God’s inerrant Word: an international symposium on the trustworthiness of Scripture, edited by John Warrick Montgomery and available here: http://www.ccel.us/godsinerrantword.toc.html. Also, for a recent video conference dealing with the same subject, see The Inerrancy Summit March 3–8, 2015 held at The Master’s Seminary and available here: https://www.gracechurch.org/sermons/events/321?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1.

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