Oftentimes we hear theologians use “BIG” words that we pretend to understand to avoid embarrassment. Or maybe that’s just me? Everyone else just “knows.” Anyways, one of those terms that have confused me is the term, “Inerrancy.” We use the term inerrancy to describe the whole of Scripture, but what does that mean? Well, let us discuss that…
Inerrancy of Scripture refers to the concept that Scripture, in its original form, does not err in the sense that it does not testify to anything contradictory to truth. The Bible does not negate itself, and it tells the absolute truth concerning all that it discloses, although it does not disclose all truth regarding all matters- only what God has elected to reveal to us. This means, that Scripture is wholly true in all that it says – not all truth is contained within Scripture, but all that is testified to in Scripture is Truth. Everything the Bible says is true.
Some would like to dispute the inerrancy of Scripture, yet their claims do not disaffirm inerrancy. Several things that do not disaffirm inerrancy are the use of language that is commonplace, estimation over precision (accuracy and precision are not one and the same), loose quotations/citations with correct content over direct/precise quotations/citations with proper punctuation, and the use of irregular grammatical constructions. Inerrancy deals with the integrity and truthfulness of the content of one’s speech, rather than the considerations aforementioned. Thus it is the essence, or the “meat” of the speech, that reigns true; meaning, let’s not get persnickety about slang.
As a side note, the genre also plays a role. The genre of the text determines how we should read it. Biblical narratives (e.g., Genesis 1-3, or the biographies of Jesus told in the Gospels, as opposed to parables that Jesus spoke), for example, report true events, whilst apocalyptic literature (e.g., the Book of Revelation) makes use of metaphors, symbols, and signs. What we must ascertain as readers, is what the author is attempting to communicate. Understanding the genre of a text we are reading helps us to interpret meaning. Several biblical genres include (historical) narrative, wisdom literature, law, poetry, prophecy, gospels, parables, letters (i.e., instructional), and apocalyptic literature.
Although we do not possess (or have not discovered) any of the original manuscripts today, we can still trust the integrity of the Bible as we have multiple copies of ancient manuscripts from various sources that all majorly agree with one another. Many may question whether or not we should still use the term “Inerrancy,” as it could be considered divisive in nature, and it may no longer mean what we intended it to mean based on the evolution of commonplace language, but it remains an accurate term for what we are attempting to achieve: giving people more confidence in Scripture, and greater assurance of God’s Word.
Greater assurance of God’s Word, therefore, leads us to a more stable foundation, in being confident of the guarantee that God is who He says He is. And if He is who He says He is, then our fear, worries, and anxieties can truly, without a doubt, be cast upon Him who cares for us. The genetic disposition for anxiety and depression does not doom us to a life surrendered to it; we have a God who assures us that His Word is true, and if true, then our mental health dilemmas (genetically disposed, environmental, or otherwise) have the potential to be healed, or at the very least, subdued and surrendered to Jesus. With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:23-26).
Please join us for our next discussion on the terms “clarity” and “sufficiency.” Let’s give these theologians a run for their money! See you next time!