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Bibliology: Inerrancy and Inspiration of the Bible

One day while sitting meditating on the word of God calming my mind and spirit, a jogger approaches me and out of curiosity and wonder on why someone would be sitting in a tranquil state reading the Bible begins to ask questions. How can one read, comprehend, and enjoy such a book? How can one claim this book to be the Words and Revelation of God himself and not of man? Can you prove there is no error in the Bible as it was penned by man and man himself is flawed? Can you prove this is not just another mythical book of fiction? How can this book change one’s life if it is truly a divinely inspired work of God?

Although the above scenario did not actually take place this essay will explore some common arguments to prove Accuracy, Inerrancy and Inspiration in the Bible touching on the theological concept of Bibliology “The term Bibliology (from Greek biblos meaning “book”) refers to the study of the nature of the Bible as revelation. It often includes such topics as revelation, inspiration, inerrancy, canonicity, illumination, and interpretation.”[i]

On Revelation:

Revelation can best be defined as a means in which God makes himself known to mankind. This may occur in the form of dreams, miracles or in actual manifestations (theophany). The Scripture notates numerous accounts of revelation such as the burning bush account to Moses (Exodus 3), (Genesis 3-8:22), (Zechariah 1:7-6:15), (John 6), and (Revelation 1) to name a few.

 

 

 

On Inspiration:

Inspiration can be best defined as “The supernatural guidance of the writers of Scriptures by the Spirit of God whereby they wrote the divine Word of God transcribed accurately and reliably.”[ii]

Inspiration does not transform the writer into a puppet but merely transmits the ideas, concepts or at times direct Word of God( Normally will be indicated by a quote such “As Thus said the Lord”) to the author while allowing free control of the writing style of the composer. A biblical account to support the argument of inspiration would be (“If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.” 1Cor.14: 37-38 N.I.V.).

On inerrancy:

 

The meaning of inerrancy can be best explained as being without error. Inerrancy takes into consideration that the copies of scripture and translations from original manuscripts (autographs and codices) are faithfully reproduced, the grammatically and literary style of the authors are without error, historical, geographical, religious (Dogma) and theological concerns are properly interpreted and that works themselves are logical and inspired by the Holy Spirit. There are several arguments supporting inerrancy as defined In the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (157-159)[iii]

Argument one is the Biblical Argument which teaches us the Bible is Inspired (“God Breathed” 2 Tim.3:16). In (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 & 18:20-22) we are given a way to identify a true Prophet of God from a False One. (John 10:34-35) states the Word of God (Scriptures) cannot be Broken. Finally, the Bible will never contradict itself and when an author cites a particular passage or verse whether directly or indirectly it will be without error. Any contradiction is a matter of interpretation by the reader and normally do to the influence of environmental or cultural factors but may arise from a misinterpretation of grammar, historical content, or figurative language.

The second argument is one of historical content which claims all historical data in the Bible is accurate or as Calvin states “The Spirit of God …appears purposely to have regulated their style in such a manner, that they wrote one and the same history, with the most perfect agreement, but in different ways.

A final argument is the Epistemological (knowledge justified by true belief) Argument. “This argument states that if the Bible is not inerrant than any claims it makes may be false.”[iv]It does not necessary mean all the Bible is false just some of the material. It leaves the reader open up to use verification via knowledge to substantiate inerrancy.  However, this form of inerrancy can lead to sub-argument called the Slippery Slope which could tear down other dogma a doctrine.

Archeological discoveries, as well as science itself have been used as proof of the Revelations of God. The basic principal the matter cannot create itself proof the existence of a divine source.

Unfortunately, the original Autographs were destroyed by anti-Christian groups, the authors themselves or by the decay of time. However the Bible has the most comprehensive translated manuscripts of any ancient text. There are around five thousand original Koine Greek and thirteen thousand copies still around today! In addition there are eight thousand Latin Vulgate and a thousand other versions of the early versions of the Bible still in existence as compared to 7 copies of Plato’s work.[v]

On Authority:

The Concept of Authority states that Bible is divine outline in all matters of speech, thought practice and daily living. This assumes one’s belief in Revelation, Inspiration, and inerrancy and introduces the concepts of the cannon, illumination and interpretation.

The Canon was completed around 100 A.D. in an attempt to form a unified doctrine and root out heretical ideas (Such as Gnosticism). In order for writings to be considered canon the must past for criteria:

  1. The Author must be a Disciple or in direct relationship with a Disciple.
  2. The content must be Revelation.
  3. The Book to be canonized must be a universally accepted doctrine by the Church
  4. The work must be Inspirational (By the Holy Spirit or God).

The English Protestant Bible today contains thirty nine books in the Old Testament and twenty seven in the New Testament, The Roman Catholic Bible and the Septuagint (LXX) contain more as they recognize some of the Apocrypha Books as Cannon as well. The difference between the Orthodox versions and the Protestant versions is a matter of Dogma and doctrine and out of the scope of this paper. In regards to what version of the Bible is the most accurate translation, this is an age old debate.  It is my belief any Christian Translation is relevant remember the Bible is inerrant in any language and translation but  it is best to stay away from a paraphrased version as one’s main source as the meaning may be miss interpreted do to the contemporary nature of the language used.

Illumination can best be Holy Spirited interpretation. In order for one to get to this level of understanding one must first bridge the historical and cultural gaps of the text itself, lay aside any contemporary prejudices or preconceived notions of the passage or verse being studied, have an understanding of the word usage, figurative language, content, grammar and style of the text and most importantly carefully study the text around the passage and verse. I myself always pray first as well when consulting a difficult section of Scripture.

Interpretation simply means to gain insight from a written or spoken message.  There are numerous ways to interpret symbols and words and it is beyond the scope to discuss them in this paper.

On Application:

As it states in (Genesis 1:1N.I.V.) “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” and closes the Book of Revelation “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

 

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:18-21N.I.V.) God is the Alpha and Omega. The Bible is inerrant, inspired, accurate and a true Revelation of the trinity both past and present. It is the ultimate source for all knowledge and should form the basis not only for matters of Theology but for secular things as well. One can gain general understanding of wisdom  in the Poetic Books, learn the history of civilization, gain insight on scientific matters, glance a glimpse of events to come and even compare the failings of past empires do to sin with the culture of today and gain enlightenment into the decline of civilization. To my hypothetical man in the opening paragraph I hope I illustrated how the Bible is an authoritative, Inspired, Revelation of God that cannot change only one’s life but the world as well.

 

 

 

Word count: # 1472

Bibliography

http://bible.org/seriespage/bibliology-bible

[1] Elmer L. Towns Theology for Today. (Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008), 29.

[1] Walter A. Elwell Baker Reference Library Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 157-159. 

[1] Walter A. Elwell Baker Reference Library Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 158

[1] Elmer L. Towns Theology for Today. (Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008), 74.

 


[ii] Elmer L. Towns Theology for Today. (Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008), 29.

[iii] Walter A. Elwell Baker Reference Library Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition . (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 157-159. 

[iv] Walter A. Elwell Baker Reference Library Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 158

[v] Elmer L. Towns Theology for Today. (Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008), 74.

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