why is inerrancy a fundamental? (with thanks to Charles Hodge and B.B. Warfield)

So why must inerrancy be a fundamental of our faith? The inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture are to be included in any count of the fundamentals of the faith, as it is the foundation of all other doctrines. Every other fundamental of the faith is based on Scripture – if Scripture does not have divine authority, then we have no divine authority for any doctrine that we adhere to.

“As it is the basis of all other doctrines, the inerrancy of the Bible is a fundamental of the Fundamentals.” — Dr. Norman L. Geisler, Inerrancy

Admittedly, the doctrine of inerrancy is not directly taught in Scripture, although it is logically implied. Two things, however, are directly taught:

  1. The Bible is the Word of God (2 Pet. 1.20-21; 2 Tim. 3.16)
  2. God cannot err (Heb. 6.18; Titus 1.2; Rom. 3.4)

The logically necessary result of these two premises is that (3) the Bible cannot err.

Defining The Terms

The terms inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy are all related. Inspiration means “breathed out by God,” “what comes from God Himself” (2. Tim. 3.16). Infallibility means “what has divine authority,” “what cannot be broken” (John 10.34-35). Inerrancy means “what is without error,” “wholly true”.

What is inspired is infallible, since inspired means to be breathed out by God, and what is God-breathed cannot be in error. Likewise, what is infallible, since it has divine authority, must also be inerrant – a divinely authoritative error is a is a contradiction in terms.

That the Bible is the Word of God can be discerned by several biblical affirmations:

  1. that it is God-breathed;
  2. that it is a prophetic writing;
  3. that it has divine authority;
  4. that it is what God says;
  5. that it is called “the Word of God,” and the like.

First, Paul declared that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3.16).

This Word, often translated “inspired” (cf. KJV), means to be spirated – breathed – from God. A kindred idea is found in Jesus’ words: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4.4).

Second, the Bible claims for itself to be a prophetic writing (Heb. 1.1; 2. Pet. 1.20-21); prophets, as mouthpieces of God, spoke only what God put in their mouths (Deut. 18.18; 2. Sam. 23.2; Isa. 59.21).

Third, that the Bible is the Word of God can be determined from the fact that it has divine authority (Matt. 5.17-18); Jesus said it was exalted above all human authority (Matt. 15.3-6).

Fourth, often the words of the authors of Scripture are equated with the words of God. For example, cross reference Genesis 12.1-3 with Galatians 3.8, and Exodus 9.16 with Romans 9.17. It is verses like these that give rise to the statement “What the Bible says, God says.”

We’ll keep on in this vein tomorrow, but that’s all for now…

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