60 Reasons "Inerrancy" is Vital
Is the Word of God true?
It is not surprising when non-Christians doubt the truthfulness or trustworthiness of Scripture. This is to be expected. However, with the coming of the Enlightenment and development of both postmodernism and textual “hyper-criticism” in the last century, it is not uncommon to meet Christians, even movements of Christians, and even denominations of Christian churches beginning to deny the historic doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy.
Some hold to a “limited inerrancy” view which denies the truthfulness of scripture in certain key places (or certain key topics) but still holds scripture as an authority in matters of faith or general doctrines of God. Still others deny the trustworthiness of scripture, as a whole. They may have fond feelings towards the Bible and might utilize its content on occasion; however, the idea of scripture being infallible, perfect, and sufficient is completely rejected. The bible is not enough and it is not true in all it affirms.
There is a slippery slope that those who deconstruct from biblical inerrancy often go down. Usually, it begins with an introduction to various difficulties in scripture (either apparent contradictions, cultural taboos, or personal concerns). This leads to a deep questioning of the biblical text and an investigation into these concerns, often by engaging books, articles, or videos of those arguing against the bible’s truthfulness. At this point, counter-arguments may or may not be entertained but enough doubt has taken hold for the individual to decide in their heart that these concerns are not sufficiently satisfied. The next step is often a crisis of faith where the individual decides to still respect the bible and hold to the values they’ve been taught but they no longer believe the bible is perfect or entirely true. They might share this with a close friend and feel shunned or attacked. Eventually though, more and more ideas and values in scripture are forsaken in exchange for more culturally-accepted morals and values. Some stay in this place for a while, some find a new church that is more consistent with their way of thinking, some leave organized Christianity altogether, and some deconstruct completely from the Christian faith and reject Christ entirely.
I personally have watched four different friends walk down this road into complete rejection of Christ. I believe the doctrine of inerrancy matters. I believe the doctrine of inerrancy is rooted in the Christian understanding of who God is, that he speaks to us, and intends to save us by the power of that divine message. I believe that we forsake inerrancy to great peril. I believe that this is a doctrine on which the gospel (and the church) will live or die. Because of this, I want to define inerrancy and then give sixty reasons why it is so important.
At its essence, the doctrine of inerrancy simply asserts that the bible is true. Why is it true? Because God is a god of truth, he has spoken to us, and he has guarded that revelation. What does it mean that it is “true”? Without providing an overly-complex dialogue, a standard definition of the bible’s truthfulness could be put this way:
In its original writings, Scripture does not err in all its authors intended to assert.
We are not arguing that a single manuscript copy or an English translation is perfect, simply the scriptures themselves at the moment of their conception. However, the content of the originals have been preserved by the direction of God throughout history in the manuscript tradition. Additionally, Scripture does not “err,” meaning that everything it says is perfectly accurate and where it leads is perfectly right. Finally, this truthfulness applies not to what we interpret the scriptures to mean, want the scriptures to mean, or expect the scriptures to mean. Modern expectations of scientific precision are not the same expectations biblical writers had of themselves or even intended to communicate. Therefore, it is important to assert that whatever the original authors intended to convey, that is what is true.
The line of logic is actually quite simple. 1) The bible is divine in origin, flowing from God himself. 2) Because God is perfect, what he communicates is perfect. 3) Because the bible is revelation from God (communicated to us by him), all that it contains is true.
60 reasons why inerrancy is vital
Despite the length of this list, this is a shortened list. Although trying to display the sheer volume and weight of the arguments for this view, there is much more that could be mentioned. I have also attempted to categorize these reasons into philosophical, theological, and biblical arguments. I am presupposing a belief in the Christian God. My hope is that if one believes in the God of Christianity, they will see how essential it is to affirm this vital doctrine.
1) Without inerrant authority, truth is ultimately unknowable.
If you do not believe in a perfect objective standard for truth, then there is no guarantee that anything you believe is certain. This is not a controversial statement. Many atheists that deny objective standards for truth admit that anything we think we know is ultimately uncertain.
2) All individuals live as if inerrant authority exists.
Despite those who claim there is no such objective standard, all individuals must live as if there is objective truth that guides their life. They might live as if science or reason are those inerrant standards, but what this shows is that the Christian claim is not unique. We all long for inerrant authority.
3) Without inerrancy, we become the final authority.
If ever one denies inerrancy, they are (by necessity) claiming themselves (their logic, experiences, and reason) as the final authority. We determine what is true and the bible must submit to our intellect.
4) Without inerrancy, we have no permanent revelation from God.
Even if you believe that God perfectly revealed himself at moments in history, unless there is an objective, knowable, and accurate record of that revelation, then we have no permanence to that revelation.
5) Inerrancy protects the Church from manmade changes or abuses.
The doctrine of sola scriptura arose in the Protestant Reformation because of the abuses happening from those who claimed equal or greater authority to scripture. If we deny inerrancy, then the door opens to those who might abuse the Church with false teaching or harmful practices.
6) Inerrancy provides an objective standard for the Church to live by.
Unless the bible is inerrant, it cannot be an objective standard. Without an objective standard, there is no guarantee that any church (or Christian movement) is faithful to the purposes and truth of God.
7) The involvement of human authors does not require error. To require error for human involvement is to assume that to err is human.
Just because God used human authors to convey his truth, this does not necessitate error. To believe this is to believe something un-Christian about the nature of humanity and the ability of God.
8) Inerrancy gives us the only ultimate confidence that the gospel is true.
The gospel is the heart of the Christian message and the believer’s salvation. We know this gospel because of Scripture. Without the assurance that Scripture is true, our confidence in the gospel will start to crumble.
9) Inerrancy is necessary if God is good, sovereign, and intends to reveal himself.
At the heart of the Christian doctrine of God is that he speaks. Lack of trust in the truthfulness or trustworthiness of Scripture reveals a lack of confidence in God’s ability or intention–or both–to give us a trustworthy revelation.
10) Inerrancy is necessary because general revelation is insufficient.
If the Christian purpose for humanity is true (to know, enjoy, and glorify God), one cannot meet this purpose unless there is a trustworthy revelation of the God we are made to know, enjoy, and worship. What we see in creation is not enough.
11) Inerrancy is necessary if the Bible is inspired by God.
Some say the bible is inspired but not inerrant. But to believe that a perfect God inspired Scripture is to believe that this Scripture is perfect as well. You cannot have one without the other.
12) Inerrancy proves that God keeps his promises.
God has promised that his Word would not fail or be lost, nor its message disturbed, so that men are without excuse. To lose inerrancy is to lose the trustworthiness of God.
13) God states that his Word is not hindered when given through sinful men.
God entrusted his revelation to sinful men and commanded them to declare it, with the assumption his Word would not be hindered. Consider the passages where prophets declare unashamedly, “The Lord said…” (Hos. 1:1; Joel 1:1; Jon. 1:1; Mic. 1:1; Zeph. 1:1; Hag. 1:1; Zech. 1:1; Mal. 1:1).
14) God commands his Word to be written down.
God would not command his Word to be written down unless he believed that his message would be preserved faithfully (Is. 8:1-2; 30:8-11; Jer. 25:13; 30:2; 36:32; 51:60-61; Dan. 9:1-2).
15) Whenever God’s people forget or reject his Word, it ends poorly.
Consider Isaiah 5, where the prophet describes all the destruction God’s people experience because they “have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”
16) Our knowledge of God’s perfect revelation (Jesus) is dependent on our knowledge of God’s permanent revelation (Scripture).
Jesus is at the center of the Christian worldview. He is the perfect revelation of God but we cannot know him unless we go through Scripture.
17) 1st-century Jews believed the OT was perfect and Jesus never corrected them.
There is no controversy to this statement. Jesus was more than willing to correct his contemporaries on matters both big and small. Such an integral piece of their worldview would be strange to be unaddressed, if so wrong.
18) NT authors quote often from the OT to demonstrate the truthfulness of God’s Word.
The revelation of the NT is not at odds with the revelation of the OT. The apostles believed this and consistently quoted from the OT to appeal to their message.
19) Inerrancy explains why biblical figures so valued the scriptures.
The value of individuals in the bible that is placed on the scriptures is far too great to be reasonable if the bible is not true and trustworthy.
20) Not once do biblical authors suggest, hint at, or infer any doubt to the Scripture’s truthfulness.
It seems that the entire Christian worldview (and its history) rests on the belief that the bible is true and completely trustworthy. To deny this is to step outside the Christian worldview.
From the Old Testament:
21) God ensures the preservation of his revealed law (Ex. 20:1-21).
God didn’t just convey his law to Moses. He inscribed his law on tablets of stone.
22) God commanded his written Word to be revered as holy.
In Deut.10:5, 31:26, and 1 Kgs. 8:9, the tablets were commanded to be placed inside the ark of the covenant, guarded and protected in the Most Holy Place in God’s presence.
23) The “book of the law” is commanded to never depart our thoughts, words, or actions (Josh. 1:7-8). This only makes sense, if inerrancy is true.
If the “book of the law” was not inerrant, it would be unreasonable for God to expect Joshua to comprehensively utilize it in this way.
24) God’s words are perfectly pure and he will preserve them (Ps. 12:6-7).
25) God’s law is perfect and to be desired (Ps. 19:7-11).
26) God’s Word is fixed, it leads us, and it is true (Ps. 119).
The longest chapter in the bible is all about the Word of God. The worship contained in this psalm for the scriptures can only be explained if the Word of God was inerrant.
27) Prophets wrote under the “hand of the Lord.”
Consider these passages (2 Kgs. 3:15; Ez. 1:3; 3:14, 22; 33:33; 37:1; 40:1) in which the writers say that their writing was a direct result of the Lord’s hand upon them.
28) God’s anger is revealed when Scripture is ignored and forgotten (2 Kgs. 22).
29) God’s Word proves true because his ways are perfect (2 Sam. 22:31).
David makes it clear that the truthfulness of God’s Word is a direct reflection of God’s perfect nature.
30) God’s Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).
31) When God speaks through people, he assures us that it is true (Jer. 1:4-12).
32) Jesus constantly upheld divine inspiration and authority.
Consider these passages (Mt. 4:4-10; 10:34-36; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24, 31; Mk. 12:10; Lk. 4:2; 5:45-47; Jn. 7:38) in which Jesus uses the scriptures as if coming from God and as holding divine authority.
33) Jesus saw a major part of his role to fulfill what was in the OT scriptures.
Consider these passages (Mt. 5:17-18; Lk. 4:18-21; 16:16-17; Jn. 2:17-21). Jesus’ fulfillment would only hold true if the promises recorded and known by his contemporaries were also true and trustworthy.
34) Jesus attributed OT writing to the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:35-37).
When Jesus talked about the OT, he discussed it as being written both by the human author and by the Holy Spirit. This is significant.
35) Jesus used “scripture” and “God” interchangeably (Matt. 19:4-5).
When quoting OT scriptures, there are times when Jesus says that “God spoke…” when the passage being quoted is not a direct quotation. This means that Jesus saw all Scripture as being spoken by God.
36) Jesus believed the OT was good and would never be lost, not even the smallest stroke of a pen (Matt. 5:17-18).
If the bible is not inerrant, then Jesus' promise in this passage was incorrect, making Jesus imperfect or misleading.
37) Jesus believed all the Prophets and Law were accurate (Matt. 11:13-14).
38) Jesus believed all the OT scriptures accurately wrote about him (Luke 24:18-47).
39) Jesus taught that all people will be judged according to their response to Jesus’ “words,” which are found only in Scripture (John 12:47-50).
In John 12, Jesus is clear that all people will be held accountable for what they do with his words. If his words were not accurately recorded and available, then God would be unjust.
40) Jesus said that Scripture could not be broken (John 10:34-35).
In this situation, Jesus is quoting the OT and is being clear that Scripture cannot change or be caused to err because it comes from God.
41) Jesus said his words would never pass away (Mt. 24:35; Mk. 13:31; Lk. 21:33).
42) Jesus taught the Holy Spirit would remind the apostles of “everything” Jesus taught accurately (John 14:16-26).
43) Jesus taught the Holy Spirit would guide the apostolic writers into “all truth” (John 16:12-15).
From the Apostles:
44) The Apostles believed they spoke accurately the “Word of God.”
The book of Acts is filled with times where the Apostles state that they were communicating the very words of God (Acts 6:2-7; 8:4-25; 10:36, 44; 13:5, 44-49; 15:23, 36; 16:32; 17:13; 18:11; 19:10, 20; 20:32).
45) The Apostles preached Christ from the OT scriptures (ex. Acts 3:18).
The high view of Scripture is fully displayed in the fact that the Apostles proclaimed Christ not just from their own testimony but from the scriptures themselves.
46) The Apostles attribute OT writing to the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:16).
It is significant that many modern critics point out the length of time that has passed between the Apostles and us today as an argument for the bible’s fallibility. However, the Apostles did not share this concern with the OT. They believed the Holy Spirit was its author and that it was still trustworthy.
47) John believed the OT scriptures faithfully bore witness to Christ (John 5:39-40).
48) John and Luke both affirm the truthfulness of their writing (Lk. 1:1-4; Jn. 21:24).
As the gospel writers recorded their words, they fully believed what they wrote was completely true.
49) Paul believed his writing was from God.
Several times Paul states that what he is writing is from the Lord (Eph. 3:4-5; Gal. 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 2:7-13; Rom. 16:25-26).
50) Peter affirms Paul’s letters as divine scripture (2 Pet. 3:15-16).
51) Paul quotes Luke’s gospel as divine scripture (1 Tim. 5:18).
In this passage, Paul quotes directly from “Scripture” and, in doing so, quotes two passages. The first is a text from the OT but the second is from Luke’s gospel. Paul, in doing so, equates the two as being Scripture, in the same divine category.
52) Scripture is breathed out by God perfectly (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
Paul states that “all scripture” is breathed out by God. This means that God is the origin of and speaker behind all of the scriptures. This is a comprehensive statement.
53) Scripture determines what we believe perfectly (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
Paul states that “all scripture” is profitable for doctrine (positive teaching), as well as reproof and correction (pointing out false belief). Scripture not only tells us what to believe; it is the standard by which all other beliefs are tested.
54) Scripture determines how we live perfectly (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
Paul states that “all scripture” is sufficient for the man of God to be “perfect, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This is a striking statement. The bible may not contain all we want to know but it does contain all we need to know. It is the perfect standard for how we are to live.
55) Paul believed Jesus’ resurrection was “according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4).
56) Paul states that his words are also God’s words (1 Thess. 2:13).
Paul commends the Thessalonians for receiving their instruction and message as the very words of God.
57) Paul commanded believers to “hold fast” to their written instructions as authoritative (2 Thess. 2:15).
58) Paul states his written command is directly from the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37-38).
In this passage, Paul declares that anyone who considers himself “spiritual” (possessing the Spirit of God) would recognize that his commands in this section are directly from God.
59) Because God’s Word endures, our salvation endures and is trustworthy (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
Peter bases the confidence we have in our salvation directly to the confidence we have that the Word of God will endure forever. To Peter, if the scriptures are not trustworthy, our salvation is not trustworthy.
60) The perfection of Christ is similar to the perfection of the OT scriptures (Heb. 1:1-4).
The author of Hebrews puts the revelation of God in Christ in the same category as the OT scriptures. The point of this passage is to say: “Because God perfectly communicated himself to us in the OT, we know that he has communicated to us perfectly in his Son.”
The heart of the matter: Who will we trust?
We all must determine what the ultimate standard for our lives will be. We all feel and inward pull (because of our sin) to lean on our own understanding, to make ourselves the ultimate authority, our thoughts the ultimate standard, and our desires the ultimate ends of our lives. This is what our cultural moment is evangelizing us toward. But we must ask where our trust lies. Is our trust resting in God, in a fallen world, or in our fallen self? Science is not inerrant. The processes developed in the scientific method only make sense if God is true. And all scientific processes are applied by fallible human beings. Reason can fail us too. Our minds cannot comprehend the complexities of God, his ways, his creation, or his purposes on their own. We need help. We need something outside of ourselves that is objectively true and relentlessly trustworthy. Scripture is that for us. God has not left us in the dark. He made us for a reason. He has communicated to us perfectly and has made sure to provide all people with access to that perfect communication. Will we trust him or ourselves? That is the question.