Victor Hugo once said, “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England” (Victor Hugo, cited by Mead. Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations, p. 49). This is a profound statement regarding a divinely appointed book. At this point, one will naturally ask: What makes the Bible so unique? What separates the Bible from other books? Without a doubt, these are important questions. The answer to these questions rest in four distinct doctrines: Inspiration, Inerrancy, Infallibility, and Perspicuity. The Bible alone claims these doctrines for itself. If true (this paper is giving that assumption), the Bible becomes absolutely unique and authoritative.
Inspiration is a process whereby Spirit-moved men wrote down God inspired words. This results in a divinely authoritative book we call the Bible. In short, it claims its content is “breathed-out,” spoken by God (Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, p. 730). Inspiration, however does not mean a word for word dictation. The personalities of the human authors are present in each writing. The Holy Spirit superintended that the words written down were the exact words God wanted. Inspiration is limited to the original writing (autograph), not the transmissions. We know there are small errors in the manuscripts but they are more grammatical then substantive. Inspiration is limited to the canonical books of the Bible. Luke is not inspired, but the Gospel of Luke is. Only the books which the Holy Spirit chose to preserve are inspired. How can God draw a perfect book with imperfect people? The answer is God can draw straight with a crooked stick (Norman L Geisler, From God to Us: The Nature of Inspiration, p. 32). The Bible teaches that God carried along human authors and refrained them from error while writing His Book (2 Peter 1:21). Inspiration is plenary, meaning everything the Bible teaches is from God, and therefore, without error.
Not only is the Bible inspired, it is also inerrant. That means it is without error. Whatever God utters is the truth. Hebrews 6:18 says God cannot lie. John 17:17 tells us that His Word is truth. Since the Bible claims to be the very Words of God it therefore is without error. Whatever subject the Bible speaks on is truthful. Scripture is inerrant, not in the sense of being absolutely precise by contemporary standards, but in the sense of making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed. The Bible is not a scientific text book; however, when it touches on topics of science or history it does so without error. The Bible makes references to nations, kings, battles, cities, mountains, rivers, buildings, treaties, customs, economics, politics, dates, and times. The Bible is often very specific, therefore many of its details are open to archeological investigation. Archeology has been called “the Bibles best friend,” a statement that reflects the long history of discoveries which affirm the biblical accounts. Truth will always stands up against scrutiny. If only more people would realize the Bible is not just a guide to direct us to ancient cities and instead see it is a map pointing to the glorious reality of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Infallibility means the text is not only without error, it means is it incapable of error. The historic Christian teaching is that the Bible is without any error (inerrant) because it is impossible for it to have error (infallibility). It is important to make a distinction of how one defines error. When the Bible speaks of containing no error it is not necessarily speaking of precise accuracy in every area of speech. Rather, it is claiming that it makes good on all its truth claims. Precision and truth overlap in meaning but are not always synonymous. Identifying error requires the understanding of linguistics and cultural context as much as it does precision. For example, a person may make the general statement, “I live five minutes from the church…” Is he considered in error if he actually lives six minutes away? No, because the intention of the statement was an approximate distance, not a precise definition. Critics will often wrongly point to “errors” when in reality they have ignored the ordinary language by placing too much emphasis on the technical language. In Scripture, God communicates to us using a...
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