When one truly examines the foundations of Christianity it becomes inescapably clear that the question of both Inerrancy and Inspiration of the Scriptures are paramount to one’s theology. Reflecting on the above the issue of authority is raised. The Lord Himself taught with great authority (Matt. 7:29) and furthermore He utilized great power and authority in healing the sick (Mk. 8:22-25). This type of authority is ontological authority[i] and was the basis for Christ’s self-contained authority. Christ has been given the divine title of the logos, “Word” (Jn. 1:1) and if by ontological epistemology Christ can claim his authority then by the same the logos of God is authoritative, being in its very nature “God breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). Naturally you would expect such an authority to be both faithful and true (Ps. 119:89) and the Word attests to itself this absolute faithfulness and truth.[ii]
The Inspiration of Scripture is hard to deny and as one looks deeply into the text you discover countless examples of men speaking from God and being prompted and moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21). This inspiration also gains its very creditability in the fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament in the lives of historical figures such as Cyrus (Is. 45:1). This fits nicely with the theme of truth and faithfulness discussed in the previous paragraph. Yet those critical of such a view of inspiration lean on another idea, a conceptual form of inspiration where God inspired the ideas of Scripture while neglecting to inform the readers which parts were inspired[iii]. These critics also appeal to manuscripts that have no actual evidence of existence[iv] from which to draw the texts we have today. It would appear safer to assume the historical, traditional understanding of inspiration, which is the Bible as a whole is the written word of God.[v]
As the debate continues the topic of Inerrancy arises. When Paul claimed he sailed to Troas (Acts 16:8) it should be understood by the reader to be fact. Likewise when Christ proclaimed Himself as the way, truth and the life (Jn. 14:6) it should be properly understood that Christ claimed these things. Yet what we cannot say of Scripture is that it is completely without error because we lack the original manuscripts to empirically verify that no errors, including grammatical, were made in transmission. However, on my view of Inerrancy, from the grounds of God’s Middle Knowledge, the doctrine of Inerrancy need not be the reason one forfeits his faith ala Bart Ehrman. If God does in fact posses counterfactual knowledge, knowledge of what one would freely do in any given situation, inerrancy does not need to be such a hotly contested doctrine. Certainly some of the salutations Paul wrote (Eph. 6:21, 2 Tim. 4:19-21) could have been indifference to God, yet we can affirm on Middle Knowledge, that the Bible says precisely what God wanted to say and it conveys his message of salvation to mankind.[vi]
The arguments on Inerrancy start with The Biblical Argument. This argument has some strong points yet its downfall comes when it attempts to relate error to authority. When defenders of this position state that if something contains errors it cannot be essentially authoritative[vii] they ultimately take a path to the edge of the cliff. If in the future errors are discovered in scripture then they will jump into disbelief. The second argument, The Historical Argument, appears to be the strongest argument for affirming the inerrancy of scripture. Yet this argument is not without its problems for history shows starting with Benedict de Spinoza and his publication Tractatus Theologicopoliticus in 1670[viii] that theologians believed in alternate views of inspiration thereby raising the question of inerrancy. The third argument, The Epistemological Argument, falls victim to the thought that if there is one error then all scripture is false, overplaying the worry that this calls all of Scripture into question.[ix] Just as with the Biblical Argument, the bar need not be raised this high. The Slippery Slope argument is the weakest argument presented by Feinberg, and as such has the smallest defense. A great many theologians hold a less rigid view of Inerrancy and are still professing Christians, they have not surrendered the central doctrines of Christianity[x]. There is simply no proof to support the necessity of such a conclusion.
The relationship between inspiration and inerrancy find their locus in God Himself for it was through the Word that became flesh (Jn. 1:14) that men were revealed salvation, which is the overarching theme of Scripture.[xi]
When properly applied to life, the Scriptures come alive by the very inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Just as Peter and the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God (Acts 2:4) my view on Scripture continues to fuel my passion to pursue the things of God with a focus on spreading His message to the lost.
Craig, William Lane. “‘Men Moved by the Holy Spirit Spoke from God’ (2 Peter 1:21): A Middle Knowledge Perspective on Biblical Inspiration.” Philosophia Christi, NS 1, 1999.
Feinberg, P.D. “Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility of.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd ed., 156-59. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.
Henry, C.F.H. “Bible, Inspiration of.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd ed., 159-63. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.
McDonald, H.D. “Bible, Authority of.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd ed., 153-54. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.Towns, Elmer. Theology for Today Mason, OH: Thomson Custom Solutions Center, 2001.
[i] H.D. McDonald, “Bible, Authority of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 153.
[ii] McDonald, 154.
[iii] Elmer L. Towns, Theology for Today (Mason: Thomson Custom Solutions Center, 2001), 61.
[iv] C.F.H. Henry, “Bible, Inspiration of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 162.
[v] Henry, 161.
[vi] William Lane Craig, “‘Men Moved by the Holy Spirit Spoke from God’ (2 Peter 1:21): A Middle Knowledge Perspective on Biblical Inspiration.” Philosophia Christi, NS 1 (1999): 73.
[vii] P.D. Feinberg, “Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 157.
[viii] Craig, 58.
[ix] Feinberg, 158.
[x] Feinberg, 158.
[xi] Towns, 53.