Challenges Against Scripture from Within: Defending the Inerrancy of Scripture


The-Word

Introduction

            The issues with the minimization of the authority of God’s Word can be traced back to the Garden of Eden with the devil himself questioning God’s mandate regarding the Tree of Life and, it has continue through the ages. From the Catholic Church elevating manmade traditions and the word of popes to the level of God’s Word, to Neoevangelicalism and some of our modern-day theologians, it is obvious that we have a problem from within our own walls. Through the window of two thousand years of church history we can see the dangers of the moving away from God’s Word. Erickson states that there is evidence that when theologians, schools, or movements disregard the inerrancy of the Bible, it always causes the abandonment of cornerstone beliefs in our faith.[1]

            These theological tragedies take places because people loose sight that, without the Bible, we have no authority to establish any doctrine, we loose power to reproof or correct anything and it leaves us open for private interpretations regarding what is truly righteous according to God’s standards (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, the inerrancy of Scripture is not a small matter, but a foundational one. By no means this study is presented in a fatalistic way, as if somehow and someway God’s ultimate plan will not come to pass. God’s will, will indeed be done. However, there is a tendency to oversimplify these issues and concerns under the umbrella that God is in control.

            As we take a look at the seven churches described in the book of Revelation, we can clearly see that God held things against some of them for not doing and dealing with issues they were suppose to. In Revelation 2:14-16 the Lord tells the church of Pergamum, “14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” (NIV)

            I am aware that this battle against the authority of Scripture will continue and will be the central cause for the great falling away from the faith (2 Thessalonians 2:3). As we get closer to the last days, it is not a coincident that this assault against the Bible seems to have grown in the last hundred years. It is Satan’s favorite tool to move people away from God by causing them to move away from his Word. At the end of the day, the way we view Scripture is at the center of our very nature as disciples of Christ. We can’t be disciples of Christ if we do not rightly honor his Word. Jesus himself stated, “… If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32 KJV). To continue in his word is to abide in his word; this means that we, as Christians, are not called to live our lives based on opinions or in any other way of life outside of what is established in God’s Word.

Body

Some Statistics

            In May 2007 Gallup showed that one third of the American adult population believes that the Bible is the actual Word of God. “About one in five Americans believe the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends and moral precepts recorded by man.”[2] The same study shows that a strong relationship between the level of education and belief in the Bible as literal; “with such belief becoming less prevalent among those who have college education.”[3] On a research done in 2013 Barna observe a slight decline in considering the Bible a sacred book. He noticed that Boomers and Elders (ages 67) are more likely to regard the Bible as sacred, while the 18 to 47 years of age are less likely to considered the Bible sacred. 56% of Americans considered that the Bible has little influence in our society today.[4] These statistics may sound alarming, however these numbers are to be expected in the world; perhaps they will get worst with time. Nevertheless, the focus of this study is on our views of the Bible within our own walls. Arguments with the world concerning the inerrancy of the Bible should be discouraged; for the lost are blinded by the god of this world (First Corinthians 4:4). We have a bigger problem; these attacks are coming from within the walls of some of our own churches.

Diverse Views of the Inerrancy of the Word Amongst Us

            Feinberg’s defines inerrancy as “the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relate to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences”[5] Erickson equates those beliefs to doctrines. Furthermore, he establishes that those doctrines must “…rest upon the authority of Scripture”[6]

         Erickson defines and explains various conceptions of inerrancy (Erickson 2013, 191-193). I passionately embrace Full Inerrancy and loudly reject all other conceptions for the simple reason that it fully honors God’s Word. Furthermore, Full Inerrancy explains controversial scientific and historical issues. The Bible was not written and applicable only for those of the generation of the original writers, as Limited Inerrancy seems to suggest. Certain concepts had to be explained in ways the writer could understand, which is why some will argue as to its application for the modern age. In the book of Revelation, for example, there may be references to airplanes, but airplanes were not invented until nearly two thousand years later; so other ways of explanation needed to be used. This is not difficult to understand for those who know the voice of their Shepherd (John 10:27), but there will always be room in the Bible for those who want to discredit it.

            I rest in the fact that in God’s Word, I confirm truth: the truth that I can count on, the truth that will make me free (John 8:32), the truth that will carry me on and carry me trough the tough times and teach me to face the good times with humility. This is the truth of God’s Word and the truth that I should live for. Even if I find myself walking though the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4), I can stand without fear just because, the Bible tells me so.

Liberalism

            One of the main tools use by the devil in this assault against the authority of Scripture is liberalism. This is not just a political ideology, it has taken residence in some of our churches under the name of Liberal Theology. “Liberal theology had its beginning in the German Enlightenment of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which demanded new ways of thinking about the relation between religion, culture, and science.”[7] If we can create a culture where absolutes are rejected, we then create a culture where truth becomes relative to whatever reality the individual wants to create. So we can create our own ideas regarding family, gender, what is good and what is evil. Erickson points out this problem by stating, “As part of postmodernism, there has been an objection to the idea of foundationalism, which is the view that all beliefs are justified by their relationship to certain basic beliefs”[8]. This foundationalism is seen as primitive, old fashion and outdated, while liberalism dance together with terms such as modernism and in our circles as Christians, Neoevangelicalism. These terms give the sense of something new, something smart and sophisticated. Nevertheless, Liberalism is founded on rebelliousness against God; they object to the idea that truth must be justify and validate by God’s Word. Liberalism is bad, not only in politics, but in our society, in our cultures, in our families and particularly, in our churches. As Christians, everything that has to do with the way we should live must be confirmed in Scripture and if not, passionately rejected, especially if it contradicts God’s Word.

Titles and Degrees are not Above God’s Word

            We are facing real arguments: arguments that sound intelligent and logical, arguments that come from people with titles, titles that give them authority to say things. But is there anybody exempt from the mandate to continue in God’s Word according to John 8:31? Absolutely not! It becomes even more dangerous when in Christian higher learning circles, the Word of God seems not to be enough as an agent of truth. In writing our own academic papers, unless we are able to quote somebody with the right title and credential, we run the risk of lacking any authority or credibility in whatever point we are trying to make, no mater how much Bible verses we give to support such points. This is troubling and could open doors for liberal ideas to infiltrate the minds of Christians students. For example, a couple of professors of divinity, after pointing out the challenges with sexual orientation, gender, abortion etc. concluded their article by stating, “The church needs to become a larger and more tolerant tent, encouraging a diversity of beliefs and practices that cut across old divisions and keep in view the radix of all good theology. If that can be accomplished, whether theology is called ‘liberal’ or not does not matter.”[9] Is there is anything to compromise when speaking about gender issues? Can we compromise anything concerning the issue of abortion?

            These compromising may sound good and harmless, but again, the Bible tells us in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (KJV) It is our duty as Christians to speak truth; in love, nevertheless speak the true. First Corinthians 13:6 tells us that love delights in truth.

The Gospel is Offensive

            The Bible tells us that Jesus is the rock of offence (1 Peter 2:8). The Gospel expresses God’s love, but also deals with our sin; somewhere down the line somebody will repent and receive Christ as Lord and Savior or reject God all together. Since when are we call to be friends of the World? These same professors speaks about the church becoming a more larger and tolerant tent, however the Bible tells us in Matthew 7:14, “…narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (NKJV). From the Old Testament to the new Testament there is a cry for us to come out of this world system not to join with them; but these professors seems to think that the way to be more effective as ambassadors of Christ is by compromising. So we are left with a water down Gospel that requires no repentance and does not deal with sin. They simply avoid any controversial issues; they focus on God’s love and the beauty of heaven, but ignore the topic of the Lake of Fire and Hell all together.

Can’t be a Disciple Without Honoring God’s Word

            This high view of Scripture is becoming more and more primitive. There is even a name for those who insist in honoring the Word; is called Bibliolatry; a basic definition of this term is the “excessive reverence for the Bible as literally interpreted.”[10] There is either the correct or the wrong approach to Scripture. Second Corinthians 3:6 tells us, “…for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” No doubts that we can’t approach the Bible like any other book; no doubts that people have used the Word to advance demonic agendas and no doubts that we need the Holy Spirit to help us. But the idea that we can hold God’s Word to a level that could be considered too high, it is not realistic to me. If anything, we do not hold the Word high enough. If anything, we must remember the inner struggles that we have in us as the Spirit and our own flesh battle for our will (Galatians 5:17).

            In John 8:31-32 Jesus tells us “…If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV) The very essence of our discipleship, our access to the truth, and our very freedom as Christians cannot enter the realm of reality without fully honoring the authority God’s Word as inerrant. I am aware that we can’t abide in God’s Word on our own; I am aware of the sacrifice of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in us an through us… this is indeed a process; nevertheless when we are serious about God’s Word, we are serious about holiness; that is because we desire to do God’s will. One of the results of pursuing holiness is stated in 2 Timothy 3:12, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (NIV)

The Cancer of Postmodernity Approach to Scripture

            This Neoevangelicals who are embracing this liberalism in our current postmodernity see persecution as if we are missing something, as if there is something wrong with our faith or with our approach. Through church history we have seen a constant attempt to make our faith more appealing to the world, nevertheless First Corinthians 1:18 tells us, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (NIV) This message, no matter how sophisticated we try to make it, is foolishness to the world; that is why the conversion of a soul is a supernatural God-given miracle.

            There is a strong wave that has become a tsunami of heretical approaches to Scripture. Andrew Davies made many alarming statement on his academic article entitle, A New Teaching Without Authority: Preaching the Bible in Postmodernity when he states, “As a preacher and an educator of preachers, however, I still feel that religious of the Bible can gain from an increasingly secularized biblical scholarship.”[11] This new compromising and water down gospel that many are embracing as progressive come straight out of the pits of hell and is indeed leading people astray. In Revelation 18:4 the Bible tells us, referring to Babylon who represents the secular system, “…’Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;” (NIV) In attempting to become friends with the world they become enemies of God (James 4:4).

The Greatest Blessings of the Reformation

            In a few months, this year, we will be celebrating five hundred years since the Reformation. I believe this is a good time to reevaluate our own condition and relationship with God’s Word. Jacobson points at three blessings that the Reformation gave us: 1) The plain meaning of Scripture, 2) the idea the Scripture interprets Scripture and 3) Scripture shows forth Christ.[12] Even as we know in part according to First Corinthians 13, Scripture has a specific meaning. We are not called to squeeze in our own ideas concerning how things should be, Scripture itself interprets itself. Lastly, it is impossible to separate Christ from his Word; he is the Word. John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (NIV) To reject God’s Word is to reject God. To Minimize God’s Word is to minimize God himself.

Bringing Home the Point

            I have struggle finding bold articles that give, what I consider, proper honor to God’s Word. One article that truly touch me was written by Grindheim. Grindheim does not view the Bible as one more theological approaches; in light of 2 Timothy 3:14-15 he presents the power of Scripture to give wisdom that leads to salvation. He expands on 2 Timothy 3:16 as the Apostle Paul expresses, specifically, what the Scripture is useful for: 1) Teaching, 2) Rebuking, 3) Correcting and 4) Training in righteousness. Grindheim does a super job in biblically pointing out the painful process of going through God’s reproof, correction and discipline. He calls it the “corrective function of Scripture.” He describes the words of Scripture as firm and reliable. In light of Hebrews 4:12-13 Grindheim reminds the reader the dual promise of the future rests in God, but also his judgment.[13]

            We can argue a man’s opinion; but who can argue the Word of God when is approached in love and humility; not trying to force our opinons into the Scripture, but allowing the Scriptures to speak and teach us? With this in mind, how can there be any argument against Mr. Grindheim’s thesis? He proves his thesis by using the same Bible he is crying out for scholars to take seriously. He, not only presents his apology in advocating for a protagonist role of Scripture, but also proves that it is what brings judgment to the world and to the Body of Christ. We will all be judged based on the words written in Scripture. The world will indeed be divided between the guilty; those who never surrender their lives to Christ and the not guilty, who were washed by the blood of the lamb. Why go around in circles to prove his thesis? His thesis is not really his own, but it is displayed all through the pages of the Bible. Grindheim gives the Bible the righteous place that the Bible deserves… period!

            Grindheim does not leave me with any questions; he leaves me confirming what was already in my spirit and, he leaves me inspired. Mr. Grindheim is not advocating for spiritual laziness or arguing against our biblical mandate to study and show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15) by the correct application of systematic, historical, biblical and philosophical theology in our lives. He is, however, making it very clear that the truth that makes us free (2 Timothy 2:16) can only be found in Scripture. Grindheim states that the Greco-Roman focus on right knowledge as a guide to right action differed from the apostles’ focus. The apostles recognized that a more radical approach was necessary. Grindheim elevates the need for the power of God to ensure that people can do good when they are accustomed to doing evil (Jeremiah 13:23). Grindheim expands by saying “that ethical transformation is not accomplished merely through to correct instruction, it is a matter of new creation.”

            I agree whole heartedly with Grinheim’s perspective. I want to see Systematic, Philosophical and Historical theology bowing down not to Biblical Theology, but to the Word of God. I find peace in knowing that I am not an original or an inventor of anything. The truth is in God’s Word and thanks to Christ, his blood, and the power of His Spirit, I now have access to my heavenly Father and, I now find myself growing in grace and in the knowledge of my Savior (2 Timothy 2:15); there is tangible hope in that! Any principle or ideology designed to affect our souls that is presented as truth, outside of the authority of Scripture, will quickly lead to devastation and, if not corrected, to the flames of hell.

Conclusion

            The minimization of God’s Word continues to this day. It has taken a sophisticated form. In the name of being accepted we have been willing to compromise which always lead to the destabilization of our foundational and non negotiable doctrines. In spite of two thousand years of church history and the dangers we have witness through the pages of such history, the devil is busy, as he did in the Garden, planting seeds of doubt in our hearts concerning what says the Lord. Moving away from the Word is taking place in the World, that should not surprise anybody; they are lost. However, it becomes our concern when such ideas attempt to infiltrate the minds of our people.

            The inerrancy of Scripture is not a small matter, but a foundational one. It is very important that we speak up and stay grounded in God’s Word. Not to be intimated or accept something as truth just because the person speaking holds particular degrees or prestige. Nobody is exempt from John 8:31 where Jesus states “… If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”  (KJV). We can’t be disciples of Christ if we do not rightly honor his Word.

            This paper is a humble alarm, a cry to return to God’s Word as the compass of truth; a loud rejection to anything that attempt to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. I hope that I presented the problem well and I hope that I was clear in my proposed solutions.

Bibliography

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Academy, 2013.

Newport, Frank “One Third of Americans Believe the Bible Is Literally True,” Gallup, May 25, 2017.

Barna Group, The State of the Bible, New York, New York: American Bible Society, 2013.

Elwell, Walker A.. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd ed..Grand Rapids: Baker Academy. 2001.

Hodgson, Peter C.,. Finney, Charles G. “Liberal Theology.” The Expository Times. 2010.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/bibliolatry

Davies, Andrew. “A New Teaching Without Authority: Preaching the Bible in Postmodernity.” The Journal of the Pentecostal Theological Association.

Jacobson, Diane. “Sola Scriptura: Strengths and Challenges,” Wiley Online Library, September 2016.

Grindheim, Sigurd. Biblical Authority: What is it Good For? Why the Apostles Insisted on a High View of Scripture. JETS. 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academy, 2013), 195-196.

[2] Frank Newport, “One Third of Americans Believe the Bible Is Literally True,” Gallup, (May 25, 2017).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Barna Group, The State of the Bible, (New York, New York: American Bible Society, 2013), 7-9

[5] Walker A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd ed., (Grand Rapids: Baker Academy, 2001), 156.

[6] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 206.

[7] Peter C. Hodgson, Charles G. Finney, “Liberal Theology,” The Expository Times, (2010):5.

[8] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 206.

[9] Peter C. Hodgson, Charles G. Finney, “Liberal Theology,”

[10] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/bibliolatry

[11] Andrew Davies, “A New Teaching Without Authority: Preaching the Bible in Postmodernity,” The Journal of the Pentecostal Theological Association, 169.

[12] Diane Jacobson, “Sola Scriptura: Strengths and Challenges,” Wiley Online Library, (September 2016) 2 – 4.

[13] Sigurd Grindheim, Biblical Authority: What is it Good For? Why the Apostles Insisted on a High View of Scripture, JETS, (2016) 791-803