Editor’s Note: On October 13, 2012, I will go before a council of pastors and attempt to pass an ordination exam. As a way of preparing for the examination I wanted to sharpen my articulation of major Christian doctrine and be able to clearly, succinctly state what I believe and why. I’m self imposing a five-hundred word limit and not allowing myself to reference any outside material except for the Scriptures. As a way of helping me in this endeavor I’d appreciate your questions regarding my positions, feedback, pushback, etc. Thank you.
What do I believe about the Bible? To put it in one word I am an “inerrantist.” By that I mean that I believe the Bible in it’s original autographs are verbally, plenary inspired by God and free from error or contradiction in all that it affirms.
I must start with defending the original manuscripts themselves, not the copies that we have today. Simply put we don’t have any of the original manuscripts. However, through the process of textual criticism in comparing the myriad of manuscripts today we can be very, very confident that what we have are extremely close to the original manuscripts in their content. There is no reason to doubt the integrity of authenticity of what we today call Scripture.
I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Paul tells Timothy that “all Scripture is God-breathed and useful…” (2 Timothy 3:16, emphasis mine). Peter affirmed that the writers of the Bible were not making up whatever they wanted to say but “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21, emphasis mine). Every word, even the grammar of Scripture (see Galatians 3:16) was inspired and spoken by God as His very Word. The Word of God is a living book (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus himself affirmed the authenticity and veracity of the Scripture (Matthew 5:18; 24:25). He set himself as the key hermeneutic principle of Scripture (Luke 24:27; 44–45).
Now what about the affirmation of being without error or contraction in all that it affirms? By this I mean to say that the Bible is truth. Jesus prayed that the Father would sanctify his people “in the truth” and then defined the source of truth for us by saying, “your word is truth” (John 17:17). The Bible is internally consistent in its teaching and doctrine.
Some will say that the Bible contains massive scientific errors that invalidate the entire thing as possessing truth. However, it is often the scientific perspective of the current day that is imposed on the Scripture. So when we see the Psalmist using poetic language to describe the sun traveling from one end of the horizon to the other (as if the sun orbits the earth) we cannot say that is an error of the Bible, but rather language used to describe how an event appeared from the perspective of the author. This sort of thing does not invalidate the Scripture as having error in it. The Bible is true in every thing that it affirms and teaches as truth.
For me, my confidence is in the God-breathed, verbally inspired, holy Word of God. God gave us a book and as He is holy he gave us a perfect book to reveal all that He is and promises to be for us in Christ.