[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
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Summary in 400 words or less:
The (Evangelical Protestant) doctrine of Inerrancy pertains to the original autographs in their original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek). The doctrine states the originals (which are lost) were free from error or defect in all they taught and affirmed.
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1979) has five statements:
1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: It is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
4. 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.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited of disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
Inerrancy does not guarantee any subsequent Bible version (including the KJV, NIV, Septuagint, BHS, any version of UBS GNT or Nestle-Aland GNT, etc.) to be free from error — in fact, we know all versions after the originals, including copies, to have errors. Nor does the doctrine of inerrancy guarantee the interpretation thereof to be inerrant.
Some more interesting arguments for Inerrancy come covenantal theologians e.g., Meredith G. Kline (“The Structure of Biblical Authority”) where covenants and covenantal sanctions could not be changed by the parties.
The doctrine of Inspiration has 2Timothy 3:16-17 in mind, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV) Biblical inspiration refers to the Holy Spirit inspiration of the human writers of the Scriptures (Old and New Testament) or the Scriptures were “breathed out by God” or “God-breathed” (NIV). An often used technical term is confluence: the Scriptures were confluently written by the Holy Spirit through human authors (including their vocabulary and personalities). The most-used analogy is one of a musician and his or her musical instrument: God is the master musician, using human authors as His instruments to make a masterpiece.
Scripture for YouVersion:
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
References for further reading:
The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy (based on the 1978 International Council on Biblical Inerrancy Summit I):
CLEE – getting a bit long, so I could also add in blurbs for total inerrancy (inerrant in all that it teaches and affirms) vs. limited inerrancy (only inerrant on issues of doctrine and faith and morals; may or may not have errors in other areas such as science, geography, and history)
“Undefectability” (used extremely rarely), meaning that the Bible is either truthful in its message or is reliable in its unified truth, although not necessarily so in words or claims of the text.
“Infallibility”: the Bible, regarding matters of faith and Christian practice, is truthful and wholly useful, and therefore is trustworthy.
And this is a secondary issue, i.e., not one for defining a Christian.
Collaborators: Chris Lee
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