The Implications of Inerrancy

Inerrancy Meets Real Life

“As one might imagine, when trust in the reliability of all of Scripture crumbles, practical ministry becomes extremely difficult to navigate. Consider preaching. No longer can one preach the whole

counsel of God. Instead, we must first discern which texts are worthy and which ones lack authority and credibility. True preaching, argues Packer, occurs when the preacher becomes a “mouthpiece for his text, opening it up and applying it as a word from God to his hearers, talking only in order that the text may speak for itself and be heard.” When doubt seeps in, the preacher begins to wonder (and understandably so) whether the text he is preaching is in fact trustworthy. Are these really God’s words? Lamentably, once such doubt is entertained, preaching with authority becomes impossible. The preacher is simply sharing his own opinions or summarizing what the church has said in ages past. But in that case one cannot, with any confidence, say, “Hear the Word of God.” Could this be why the heritage of evangelical preaching has faded away in many churches today? Could this be why so many Christians have such little confidence in preaching as a means of grace?

Counseling suffers from the same disease. One must now decide what parts of Scripture are acceptable and applicable to the Christian life and which ones should be ignored, even repudiated, as unethical.

It is only a matter of time until the relativism of postmodernism takes hold. In an attempt to rip off the husk to get down to the kernel, subjectivity reigns. One man’s textual treasure may be another man’s textual trash. While some may see texts describing the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection as golden, others, utilizing the same methodology, see those resurrection texts as deeply flawed and find no credibility in the claim to a historical resurrection.

A rejection of inerrancy turns things upside down. Man, not God, has become the arbiter of truth. The reader, not the author, now determines what is good and necessary for the Christian faith. “To say that some parts are more ‘inspired’ than others,” observes Jensen, “is to treat inspiration as a response by the reader rather than as a characteristic o

f the text.” Believing that God has not revealed himself in a completely truthful and trustworthy manner, each individual must decide for himself what parts of God’s self-communication stay and p 301 what parts are to be dispensed with. Without inerrancy, what we are left with is a doctrine of Scripture that looks and feels more like a theology of glory than a theology of the cross. Rather than God stooping down to us (theology of the cross), we are climbing our own ladder up to God (theology of glory).

Eventually, deviating from sola Scriptura leads to a fork in the road. As we elevate man, we see ourselves as the arbiter of truth (modernism) or as the inventor and creator of truth (postmodernism). History teaches us that either road is a dead end. We are no longer thinking God’s thoughts after him, but have reinterpreted God’s thoughts into our own image. Turretin warns, “Unless unimpaired integrity characterize the Scriptures, they could not be regarded as the sole rule of faith and practice.” The truthfulness of Scripture is critical and fundamental to our faith. While belief in inerrancy does not determine whether one is a Christian or not, it is crucial to the Christian faith. It represents the historic position of the Western church and aligns with what the prophets, apostles, and Christ himself all believed about God’s Word. What do we gain by discarding it? Or perhaps the more troubling question is: What do we lose by forsaking it?”

Matthew Barrett and R. Albert Mohler Jr., God’s Word Alone—the Authority of Scripture: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters, The 5 Solas Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 299–301.

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Don’t Presume

J. C. Ryle, 1816-1900

“But I wish here to expose the folly of all those who talk in a loose and general way about God’s mercy. Men will often say, when urged to think about their salvation, “Indeed I know I am not what I should be; I have broken God’s law very often, but He is very merciful, and I hope I shall be forgiven.” Truly, I do believe that the religion of many goes no further than this. This is the only point they can lay hold of; this is the only rock on which they build: press them for a reason of their hope, and there is no answer; ask them to explain the ground of their confidence, and they cannot do it. “God is merciful” is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, of all their Christianity. Now, I am bold to say, beloved, this is an immense delusion; a refuge of lies that will not stand being compared with Scripture, and, more than this, it will not last one instant in the fire of trial and affliction.

Have you not ever heard that God is a God of perfect holiness—holy in His character, holy in His laws, holy in His dwelling-place? “Speak unto the children of Israel,” says the Book of Leviticus, and say unto them. “Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.” “He is a holy God,” says Joshua; “He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.” “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evils, and canst not look on iniquity,” says Habakkuk. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” And the book of Revelation, speaking of heaven, says, “There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth.” “It shall be called the way of holiness,” says Isaiah; “the unclean shall not pass over it.” And will you tell us, in the face of all these texts, that man, corrupt, impure, defiled—as the best of us most surely is—shall pass the fiery judgment of our God and enter into the heavenly Jerusalem by simply trusting in the mercy of his Maker, without one single rag to cover his iniquities and hide his natural uncleanness. It cannot be: God’s mercy and God’s holiness must needs be reconciled, and you have not dlone this yet.

And have you never heard that God is a God of perfect justice, whose laws may not be broken without punishment, whose commandments must be fulfilled on pain of death? “All His ways are judgment,” says the book of Deuteronomy; “a God of truth and p 83 without iniquity, just and right is He.” “Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne,” says David. “The just Lord is in the midst,” says Zephaniah; “He will not do iniquity: every morning doth He bring His judgment to light; He faileth not.” “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets,” said Jesus: “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” I cannot find that these verses have ever been declared useless; I cannot discover any place which says the law is now let down, and need not be fulfilled; and how, then, can I teach you that it is enough to look to God’s mercy? I read of only two ways in the Bible: One is, to do the whole law yourself; the other is, to do it by another. Show me, if you can, one single text which teaches that a man may be saved without the claims of the law having been satisfied. An earthly prince, indeed, may forgive and pass over men’s transgressions; but God never changes. “Hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” I tell you, then, God’s mercy and God’s justice must be reconciled; and this you have not done yet.”

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