defining inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture

This is the first part of a three part post to discuss the pivotal doctrine of inspiration. Over the next three post, we will discuss inspiration: what it is, what it includes and what is part of it. Also, the doctrine of inerrancy will be discussed.

defining inspiration and inerrancy

Second Peter 1:21 states “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” One of the key doctrines of the Christian faith is that of inspiration, specifically the inspiration of Scripture. A key ingredient to inspiration is the idea or concept of inerrancy, which is commonly thought of as “without error.” The Bible, and everything included in it, is a central and pivotal part of the Christian faith. To deny its Divine Authorship is to also deny its accuracy, authority, sufficiency and sacredness which is quite dangerous because it is to deny God’s character. The character of God and the descriptions of Him are revealed in Scripture as a truthful and trustworthy God; this is what makes the issues of inspiration and inerrancy so significant.

While the terms and ideas of inspiration and inerrancy have come under attack, it is the goal of this paper to lay out a definition that will be profitable and truthful to God’s revelations that are found in His Word. While these terms, inspiration and inerrancy, have been misconstrued and redefined by the modern world, it is important that we understand the concepts that these two terms refer to, and why they must be maintained as part of the Christian faith. God gave us the original writings by breathing out of the authors His divine words that those who believe in Him may be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17, NIV). It is those original writings that were inspired and inerrant, but the copies that we can hold in our hands today are still accurate and reliable.

Why this Issue is Important

“The Bible presents itself first and foremost, as the Word of the Lord, given to man through chosen recipients and transmitters of divine redemptive revelation.”[1] The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture says that God is the Source. The writings are inspired which means they came from God, or to say it in a more biblical sense, they are God-breathed. With God as the Source, Scripture describes, discloses, and marks His character. Among the many disclosures about God throughout His Word, is that He is true and perfect. Thus, if God is the source of the inspired Scriptures and of all truth, then what is written in His Word must be true and free from error. Since God is the source of Scripture, we can imply that Scripture has the authority of God; because God is who He says He is, Scripture is to be obeyed, and have authority and influence in a person’s life. The nature of Scripture as the Word of God means that every part of it is authoritative and trustworthy. “At stake is the credibility and reliability of the Bible as authentic revelation from God.”[2] “The result of inspiration is that God’s revelation is fully, permanently, and reliably committed to writing, assuring as a consequence the full trustworthiness of the prophetic-apostolic writing.”[3]

In recent years, skeptics have criticized the character of God through the attack on the inspiration and inerrancy of God’s Word. By describing that the Bible contains errors and questioning the process of inspiration, critics are challenging the providence of an Almighty God that is the only perfect and infallible being. Therefore, to challenge the Divine Word of God and bring His character into question is of utmost importance. For God cannot lie or deceive and what He reveals in His sacred Word must be true because God is the standard of truth.

[1] Carl F. Henry, “The Authority and Inspiration of Scripture,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank Gaebelein, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 5.

[2] Gleason Archer, “Alleged Errors and Discrepancies in the Original Manuscripts of the Bible,” in Inerrancy, ed. Norman Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 59.

[3] Henry, 26.

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