And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye
may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
[Romans 12:2] [KJV]

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Inerrancy and Literalism
Some people say, "If you believe in inerrancy, then you have to take every statement in the Bible literally. You have to believe that the sun actually 'rises,' that God has a 'heart,' perhaps even that God has 'wings' " (Psalm 17:8). This is foolish, of course. It is based on the error of supposing that for something to be true it must be expressed in non-figurative language. This is just not so. The bible uses poetic language at times, just as we do. We do not err just because we use it, nor does the Bible. Everyone understands the language to be poetic. In the same way, some biblical expressions are adaptations to the limits of human language as, for example, those parts of the Bible that refer to the emotions or parts of God. God is not like us because He is Spirit (John 4:24 - and please note that there is no article 'a' in the critical texts). He does not have a body, or a 'strong right arm'. But how can the Bible adequately tell us that we are deeply loved by God unless it tells us that his heart is moved, and uses other similar expressions?

Inerrancy and Jesus
Other people say, "If you believe in inerrancy (especially if you consider that idea worth contending for), then you are making the Bible more important than Jesus." But Jesus taught that the Bible is trustworthy. He is the one who said, "Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matthew 24:35). He said, "The Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). If we take a lesser view of the Bible, we are not making Christ more important. We are making him less important, for we are discounting his testimony. To confess his Lordship means to believe him and follow him in all he says, including his teachings about the Bible. He once asked the question, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46).

Inerrancy and Christian Living
Another misunderstanding is by those who say, "Inerrancy makes doctrines more important than Christian living." anyone should be able to see the error in this. We only have to ask the question Francis Schaeffer has asked as the title of one of his books, "How Should We Then Live?" The only way we can know how to live is by the authoritative teaching of the Bible. God teaches us how to live in Scripture. So, far from undermining or lessening the importance of the Christian life, it is only the full authority of the Bible linked to its inerrancy that provides a standard for it.

Copies and Translations
Finally, there are people who say, "Since translations of the Bible differ and since both cannot be right, inerrancy is a mistaken notion." The misunderstanding here is to suppose that inerrancy applies to the copies of the original documents or to translations of these documents. Actually, it applies only to the original manuscripts, called autographs.

"But why didn't God see to it that we have error-free copies?" This question is a bit more substantial. It may be that in the final analysis we have to say that we simply do not know why God has seen fit to act as he did. We obviously do not understand much of what God does, and unless he has chosen to give us the answer to this question there is no reason why we should know it. Still, we may guess at an answer. Knowing human nature, it is reasonable to suppose that if we had supernaturally preserved copies of the biblical manuscripts (or perhaps even the originals themselves), men and women would tend to worship them rather than the God who gave them. We remember the bronze serpent that God gave in Moses' time. Later it was worshiped (2 Kings 18:4). How much more likely is it that people would end up worshipping the manuscripts of the Bible rather than God?

Inerrancy Defined
What does inerrancy mean then? It simply means that the Bible is wholly true. Paul Feinberg has written, "Inerrancy means that when all facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything they teach, whether that teaching has to do with doctrine, history, science, geography, geology, or other disciplines or knowledge." At the Chicago summit meeting of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy in October, 1978, several hundred key evangelical leaders signed this statement: "Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives."

Here is an even more concise definition:

The Word of God is the Will of God

God means what He says and He says what He means. God has a purpose for everything He says, where He says it, when He says it, why He says it, how He says it and to whom He says it.

Divine truthfulness is the bedrock upon which inerrancy and all other true statements concerning the origin and nature of the Bible are built.

Also please consider this:

All of the words in God's Word are inspired of God; but not all of what is in the inspired Word of God is God's will.

Think about that one carefully. For example, the account of King David having gotten Bathsheba pregnant and then arranging to have her husband Uriah killed in battle was inspired of God to be recorded [2 Samuel 11:3-26], but the actions of David which were recorded were not inspired of God [2 Samuel 11:27-12:14]. Yet Despite David's human faults God later inspired this description of him to be recorded in the book of Acts in that he was "... a man after mine own heart" [Acts 13:22]. No man is perfect, but our goal must be to do our utmost for His highest with an honest heart, turned and open to God like the sunflower to the sun.

God's Word is written in both "figurative" language, i.e. the truth being recorded using figures of speech, as well as "literal" language, i.e. the truth being recorded using factual information. Regardless of whether God's Word was originally recorded figuratively or literally - we, as workmen of the word of truth must strive to interpret the Bible ACCURATELY.


The Semeion Fellowship Web Site was last updated on Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Your Webmaster is Kenn McDermott - Visit Kenn's other website at www.ussvirginiabase.org

The scripture used throughout this web site is quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. All explanatory insertions by the webmaster within a scripture verse are enclosed in brackets. All Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic words are transliterated into English and italicized