Share This Episode
Renewing Your Mind R.C. Sproul Logo

Infallibility & Inerrancy

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 16, 2020 12:01 am

Infallibility & Inerrancy

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1321 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

September 16, 2020 12:01 am

Is the Bible without error in all that it teaches and reveals? Today, R.C. Sproul shows that our answer to that question influences every other doctrine in our faith.

Get the 'Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theology' DVD Series for Your Gift of Any Amount:

Don't forget to make your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

The Voice of Sovereign Grace
Doug Agnew
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Grace To You
John MacArthur

When it comes to understanding the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.

We need to define our terms. I've taken spelling test where we have 20 questions and I got all of them right. My test was an errant I didn't require the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to do that.

And of course to be in errant for a small period of time did not make me infallible as subsequent spelling tests would verify this into Marcy's wonderful sense of humor. There will let's get to the point is the Bible true bullets.

Even the historical and scientific parts. Welcome to Renewing Your Mind of this Wednesday we went, theologians have debated those questions for centuries, but it's a debate you and I should be involved in it as well. We can't sit on the sideline here because where we land determines what we believe about nearly every other doctor. It really is an eternal life and death issue. Any discussion of the nature sacred Scripture that includes the concern about its inspiration asked to tackle in our day and age, at least the issues of the infallibility and the inerrancy of Scripture's. We know that throughout church history. The classic and traditional view of the Bible is that having come by way of divine inspiration. The Bible is been recognized and by the church in all ages as being infallible and in errant, but with the rise of higher criticism, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. Not only has the inspiration of Scripture, under widespread attack. Specifically, these concepts of infallibility and inerrancy have been sharply criticized one of the complaints is that the doctrine of inerrancy is alleged to have been the creation of 17th century Protestant orthodoxy, which is sometimes called the age of Protestant scholasticism corresponding to the secular philosophical histories era of the age of reason and that is that the idea of an inerrancy has been a rational construct that was foreign not only to the biblical writers themselves, but even to the magisterial reformers of the 16th century critics of inerrancy are quick to point out that Luther never used the term inerrancy.

And that's true.

All that Luther said was that the Scriptures never now. Don't know what the difference would be between the concept, inerrancy, and the concept of something's never erring could be, but certainly the idea was held in common by the magisterial reformers and it was also not an innovation for them. In the 16th century. As we go back to Cotillion to our Aeneas, and particularly to St. Augustine and we will see these concepts plainly declared by them but more to the point is what is the Bible's view of itself that we recognize their other books on this planet like the book of Mormon in the Koran and other sacred literature of other world religions that claim to come about by way of divine origin and divine inspiration and the Bible also makes that claim. Now I am not one who believes that that claim is true simply because the Bible makes it because if something is true. Just because the claim is made, then we would have to grant equal truths to the book of Mormon and these other books there are. Because like this since this really is the word of God and the word of God claims to be the word of God and if it really is the word of God's claim must be so.

So in this case it is the word ago. I believe it is the word of God and I believe that it is God who is making the claim that it is the word of God and not on things in a higher authority than God himself. But they again the question is how I recognize that word from other claims in other places but that's another question. It is significant, however, to the church that the Bible does claim to come to us by divine inspiration because of it doesn't than that source that we have for the most important trues of our law is given an exaggerated claim to its own integrity and its own authority and that would have very serious consequences and repercussions now. Again, the church historically has seen that the Bible of all the written literature and history is alone uniquely infallible and the word infallible may be defined as that which cannot fail is in defective bowl. It is incapable of making a mistake and linguistically, the term infallible is a higher term than the term inerrancy. For this reason, I could write in an errant grocery list without any claim to divine inspiration. I've taken tests as a student in elementary school spelling test where we have 20 questions and I got all of them right and I got 100% my test was an errant I didn't require the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to do that. And of course to be in errant for small period of time and in a very restricted arena did not make me infallible as subsequent spelling tests would verify because I was capable of making mistakes.

Now I say that for a reason, because so much of the controversy today involves certain amount of confusion about both of these terms and let's look at some of these problems. One large Christian body and its historic confession makes the claim that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Now I have seen those who have jettisoned this concept replace it with another statement that sounds so much similar to this in that statement goes like this that the Bible is only infallible when it speaks of faith and practice. Most satellite AA, but there is different as night is from day. Let's look at the first one when this statement says that the Bible is the only infallible rule, the term only restricts the Bible out of all possible other rules and set of all books of all norms of all authorities. There is only one that is infallible in its authoritative ruling capacity, and that is the Bible and it is an infallible rule of what of faith and practice. Now it refers here to the faith and the practice of Christians now. In that regard. This would say that the rule that Scripture is the rule of our faith, which has a do with all that we believe, and it is the rule for our practice, which has to do with all that we do not notice how these words change their orientation when we get to this next statement.

Now we say that the Bible is only infallible when so this now is not restricting the Bible from other sources or other rules, but now the word only is restricting a portion of the Bible itself, and saying that there is a limited infallibility of the Bible, not that the Bible is the only infallible rule and all that it says but in this case only part of the Bible is infallible and that is what we call limited inerrancy which is become very popular in our day. It's only infallible when it speaks of faith and practice. Now, do you realize that up here. The two terms faith and practice are words to capture the whole of the Christian life. What else is there besides what we believe and what we do to be ruled about, but here now faith and practice refers to a portion of the teaching of Scripture which may be distinguished from what the Bible says about history what it says about world science and what it says about cultural matters, and so on than other words, now the Bible is restricted in its authority only when it speaks of religious matters of faith and anything else it talks about may fail such as matters of history. Maybe the Bible is incorrect when it tells us about what actually took place in the ancient world had to be careful with the way in which these terms are used in theological statements now in the final analysis, the question of the authority of the Bible rests for the church on the question of the authority of Christ.

Several years ago. In fact, in the early 70s slick in your ministry sponsored and hosted a conference on the authority of Scripture in Pennsylvania, a book was published out of that conference call God's inerrant word edited by John Warwick Montgomery, the Lutheran scholar and we have scholars from around the world come together into a symposium to discuss the question of the inerrancy of the Bible and without previous collusion every single scholar that was there came to the question of the authority of the Bible. Crystal logically, that is, they came with this question in mind what was Jesus view of Scripture because it was the desire of these scholars to hold a view of the Bible that was no more, and by no means no less, than the view of Scripture taught by Jesus himself. Now I immediately feel the weight of the problem because the only way we know of Jesus view of the Bible is by reading the Bible and so we could get ourselves locked here in a vicious circular argument saying that Jesus taught this in the Bible, and yet we only know about what Jesus said, by virtue of the Bible. But if we go back and take this a step at a time. Those who are critics of the infallibility of Scripture and the biblical scholars who are fond of attacking particular passages in the Bible and say all these were later reductions that would come after the death of the apostles were so on and they don't get us in touch with the authentic teachings of Jesus or of the apostles of that group of skeptics and critics. There is widespread agreement that those portions of Scripture that are least in dispute with respect and with regard to their historical authenticity are those portions of Scripture that happened to contain Jesus's statements about the Scripture. There is really not a serious dispute in the theological world about what view Jesus held of the Bible. I would cite people like Bart Bruhn or Paul Althouse. Even Rudolph Bultmann, the holy Kim your Emmaus CH Dodd, to name but a few of the reputable scholars and higher critical scholars of the 20th century who agree to a man that the historic human Jesus of Nazareth, believed and taught the very high exalted view of Scripture that was common to first century Judaism, namely that the Bible was nothing less than the inspired word of God. But Jesus made such comments as this thy word is truth.

The Scripture cannot be broken.

Not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass away until all is been fulfilled and there is, as I've mentioned before, the way Jesus treated the Scriptures of the Old Testament where he would rest his case on the turn of a single word and would simply say it is written to settle a theological dispute.

So I'm saying is there are few very few if any scholars who would challenge the view that Jesus of Nazareth taught what the church for 2000 years has been teaching, but at the same time, the scholars who make that admission turn around and say that Jesus was wrong in his view of Scripture.

And when you hear that at first blush, you wonder about the arrogance of such a statement from a Christian theologian say well I have of your Scripture which is the correct one, and I'm going to have to correct Jesus in his teaching to the church about the nature Scripture they hasten to add that not only was Jesus wrong about his view of Scripture. But it's okay that he was wrong because he was influenced by the prevailing view of the primitive prescientific Jewish community of his age and in his human nature. He had no possible way of knowing that the current view of Scripture that was popular in his day was erroneous and they are also quick to point out that if you argue that Jesus was omniscient in his human nature, and that he knew everything that that would be a Christological heresy because the Christology of the church historically teaches that omniscience belongs to the divine nature and not to the human nature and touching his human nature. There were things manifestly that Jesus did not know when pressed about the day in the hour of his return. For example, he says to his disciples that this day is not been revealed that the Angels do not, and even the sun doesn't know it, but only the father knows. So Jesus himself gave a limit to his own knowledge, and so that he gave us a false view of Scripture is excusable because the had no way of knowing in response to that Orthodox scholars would say wait a minute, it's not necessary for Jesus to be omniscient to be our Redeemer and we grant the touching his human nature.

He did not have the attribute of omniscience.

Obviously the divine nature did with the human nature didn't. But the broader issue. The deeper issue here is the sinlessness of Christ because of Christ committed one sin he would be disqualified as our Savior couldn't make atonement for his own sin, let alone for and so then the question becomes, what it be sinful for a teacher who claims to teach nothing except that which is received from God the teacher near what it be assumed for a person, a prophet, for example, come on the scene and say I say nothing of my own authority, but only on that which is based on the authority of my father who sent me, and then teach error. What would you think of a professor who walked into the classroom and said today. I'm not just going to proclaim for you the truth, but I am the truth, and then you caught me in a blatant error.

The Scriptures have an ethic about teaching that we ought not have many become teachers for with teaching comes the greater judgment. Now I have a moral responsibility as a teacher not to bluff or to lie to my students. If my students asked me a question and I don't know the answer that question, I am obliged to say I don't know the answer to that question. Where my thinking is tentative on the matter. I should say to them look maybe it's this. Maybe it's that I'm leaving in this direction because the teacher has so much power of influencing the thinking of those who are studying at his feet and nobody had greater influence and authority as a teacher in all of human history and Jesus of Nazareth and that he's telling people that Moses wrote of him, and that Abraham rejoiced to see his day, and the word cannot be broken in the Scriptures through and he's wrong is culpable for that because you don't have to be omniscient to be responsible to put a limit to his own certainty where that limit actually falls so I would say that if Jesus were wrong about the teaching that he gives to us about such a crucial matter as the authority of the Bible itself that I can imagine anybody taking them seriously about everything else. He taught about Jesus own pedagogy. He rebuked the Pharisees for straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel and said if you cannot believe me concerning earthly things. How can you believe me concerning heavenly things. And yet we now have a whole generation of theologians who say Jesus was wrong about earthly things. The matter of the transmission of the Old Testament, and so on. But you still eminently trustworthy with respect to heavenly things. We have all generational theologians who have strained out the map and swallowed one gnat of a camel by attacking the accuracy and trustworthiness of the very Lord of the church. We say that the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice, because we believe that it is the rule that has been delegated by the only Lord of the church whose rule it is. And when we have a generation of Christians say I believe in the authority of Jesus, but not in the authority of Jesus with respect to the authority of the Bible is were I get off the boat so I think it's significant that we start not in a circle assuming the authority of the Bible. But if the Bible teaches us. For example, the Jesus was a good man even worth the Bible can give us enough just basic reliable historical information that we can say it's basically reliable reliable enough to come to the conclusion that Jesus was a prophet and then we learn that this Jesus whom we met by reliable information tells us that that source of information that we've only deemed to be basically reliable up to this point tells us that it's more than basically reliable. Then we have moved not in the circle but progressively from the basic starting point of historical openness to criticism to historical reliability to historical knowledge of the teaching of Jesus to the teaching of Jesus, who tells us that that source is not just basically reliable but absolutely reliable because it is nothing less, than the word of God and if the word of God.

It cannot fail if it cannot occur. It does not are now the Council of biblical inerrancy has done much to study the nuances of the meaning of the term and inerrancy. We have a booklet like an ear where I give a commentary on the articles of affirmation and denial from the Chicago Summit several years ago explaining in detail the doctrine of inerrancy and you can get that by contacting Ligon here, but for now I'm going to just simply say that the inerrancy is the lesser term and it follows resist loosely from the concept of infallibility of something cannot occur than manifestly does not, and it does not. With respect to truth all the Bible has to be to pass the test of criticism is absolutely consistent with its own claims with the claims of Jesus and that means with respect to the New Testament concept of truth telling Thea and if we define truth, the way the New Testament does, and I think there is no reason under the sun or people to dispute the other Psalm 1830 tells us that every word of the Lord proves to be true. And because it's incapable of teaching error. Scripture must be and actually is free from error.

The doctrine of biblical inerrancy is foundational to the Christian faith, and Dr. RC Sproul has Smetana so well in this doctrine today. Thank you for listening to Renewing Your Mind as we continue wearing portions of RC series on systematic theology we call it foundations were concentrating on our understanding of the Bible this week, but this series contains so much more and factors more than 22 hours of teaching on 20 DVDs. Dr. scroll examines what the Bible says about man miracles the church the end times, among others. It's like several seminary courses bundled together and that when you give a donation of any amount today. We will send you this special edition series number is 800-435-4343.

You can also make your request and give your gift when you go to our website at Renewing Your Mind.Ward also include a bonus disc containing the study guides for each lesson and the MP3 audio files of the entire series when you call us with your gifts simply request foundations by Dr. RC Sproul, our number again is 800-435-4343 and the web address Renewing Your will how do we know that the books of the Bible are inspired by God tomorrow.

RC will help us understand where the Bible comes from this Thursday on renewing your my

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime