Does it really matter if the Bible is perfect and without error? Many today question whether there is anything at all we can know for certain. Such people echo the question Pilate made to Jesus centuries ago: "What is truth?"
Is it important to believe in biblical inerrancy? Why?
Yet biblical inerrancy is extremely important. Christianity rests upon whether the words that are the basis of our faith are true. This issue reflects on the character of God and is foundational to our understanding of everything the Bible teaches. Here are some reasons why we should hold to the importance of biblical inerrancy:
1. The Bible itself claims to be perfect. "The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6). "The law of the LORD is perfect" (Psalm 19:7). "Every word of God is pure" (Proverbs 30:5, KJV). These claims of purity and perfection are absolute statements. God's Word is not "mostly" true or "nearly" perfect. The Bible doesn't claim merely to be true in spiritual matters but not in other matters. No, the Bible argues for complete perfection, leaving no room for other options or theories.
2. The Bible stands or falls as a whole. If it claims to be perfect, it must not contain any error, or it is a book of error. If the Bible is wrong about geology, why should its theology be trusted? It's either a trustworthy document, or it's not.
3. The Bible is a reflection of its Author. If it is inspired by God (2 Peter 1:21) and is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then it must be perfect. If not, we have a major problem with the character of God.
To put it another way, if God can create the universe, He can certainly write a book. And, if He is a perfect God (if He's not perfect, He can't be God), then the book He writes must be perfect. Therefore, when we find a concern with the Bible, it may be an issue of interpretation or, in some cases, an issue of our understanding the right wording of the original text. However, the originally revealed words of Scripture come from God. That being the case, they must be perfect.
4. The Bible is perfect; we are imperfect. "For the word of God . . . judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). Notice the relationship between "the heart" and "the Word." The Word examines; the heart is being examined. The Bible calls us to live according to its ways, not question whether its ways are worth following. As Romans 9:20 says, "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?" (Romans 9:20).
5. The Bible's message must be taken as a whole. It is not a buffet of teachings from which we can choose what we like. Many people like the verses about God's love, but not those that speak of judgment. But we can't just choose the parts we like and dismiss the rest. If the Bible is wrong about hell, for example, then how can we know it's right about heaven—or about anything else? If the Bible is wrong about how God created the earth, how can we trust what it says regarding the end of the world? The Bible is unified; it presents us a full picture of who God is. "Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89).
6. The Bible is our only rule for faith and practice. If it's not reliable, then on what do we base our beliefs? Jesus asks for our trust, and that includes trust in what He says in His Word. In John 6:67-69, Jesus had just witnessed the departure of many who had claimed to follow Him. Then He turns to the twelve apostles and asks, "Do you want to go away as well?" At this, Peter speaks for the rest of the disciples: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Peter's conviction should be ours, too. We are to see the Lord as having the words of life. There's no other source.
Biblical inerrancy does not mean that we are to stop using our minds to better understand or interpret Scripture. We are commanded to study the Word (2 Timothy 2:15). Those who search it out are commended (Psalm 1:1-2; Acts 17:11). Also, we recognize that there are difficult passages in the Bible, as well as sincere disagreements over interpretation. Our goal is to approach Scripture reverently and prayerfully. When we find something we don't understand, we seek an answer from God through prayer and research. We turn to the Author for a deeper understanding of His perfect Word.
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