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What is Inerrancy? Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 28, 2021 8:58 pm

What is Inerrancy? Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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February 28, 2021 8:58 pm

Inerrancy of the Bible is an important concept to Bible-believing Christians. Just what is this concept? And how does this topic relate to Mormonism? Please see an article related to this topic by visiting

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Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believe in the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism.

I'm your host, Bill McCaver, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. Joseph Smith made the statement, and this can be found in the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, page 327. He said, I believe the Bible as it read, when it came from the pen of the original writers. Now, Eric, that definition that Joseph Smith gives is really not all that different than what a lot of Biblical scholars have said regarding how our Bible came to be and the understanding of the doctrine of inerrancy.

I think in order to have a discussion on the subject, we need to have a working definition of what inerrancy is as opposed to what it isn't, because I think it would be safe to say that even many professing Christians probably don't have a clear understanding of what the doctrine of inerrancy is all about. And we have two parts to what he's saying here. First part is where I think you and I would agree, and all evangelical Christians could agree, when he says, I believe the Bible as it is read, when it came from the pen of the original writers. Now, I think that is a classic idea of inerrancy compared to the transmission of the text, which is the second part of his citation when he says, ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors. And you can understand why later he came up with the eighth article of faith, which says that the Bible is true only as far as it is translated correctly. We've talked about that a number of times on the show, Bill, that he really is not saying translated correctly, but transmitted correctly. There is a difference, even though he uses the phrase ignorant translators that when he says careless transcribers, that seems to be speaking directly to transmission.

But even when he says this, let's give it to him. Let's say, okay, there were some ignorant translators, there were some careless transcribers, and there may have even been designing or corrupt priests who committed many errors. I think a question that we need to ask our LDS friends when discussing this subject is, all right, how many of these errors found their way into our modern text?

Really, how many corrupt priests were there purposely trying to corrupt the text? Because it makes me think that even if this was true, their alterations would be found out rather easily, just as today modern biblical scholars can go back in time, if you will, and see where something is amiss. But that doesn't mean the whole Bible has to be thrown out. We know where it is amiss, and we can prove that that portion might be amiss.

But in order to do that, we have to have something that's correct. And I think that's lost on a lot of Latter-day Saints. Well, then you can ask the question, so you believe the Bible as it read, when it came from the pen of the original writers, then you must believe in an inerrant scripture, an inerrant Bible. And I think that a lot of Latter-day Saints then will complain, say, well, I'm not so sure. But if you come up with what Joseph Smith has said, and with what we as Christians hold to, we're on the same page as what the original authors wrote was what God intended. We can go to 2 Timothy 3.16, that it says all scripture is God-breathed, is inspired by God, and it's profitable, and it gives reasons why we can trust it and how we can use it. But when we take a look at what theologians and pastors, how they have defined the word inerrancy, I think we can say that we can agree with what Joseph Smith has said there. Well, let's look at some of the definitions of inerrancy that have been given to us by scholars, by pastors and theologians.

Let me give you one. This is from the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, page 19, that was written by Christian theologian Gleason L. Archer. And he said this, throughout the history of the Christian church, it has been clearly understood that the Bible, as originally given by God, was free from error. Except for heretical groups that broke away from the church, it was always assumed that scripture was completely authoritative and trustworthy in all that it asserts as factual. So here we have a theologian saying what was originally given by God, it was free from error. Now, I would think that the Latter-day Saints should want to be able to agree with that as well, because otherwise, why would they have the Bible in their canon of scripture in the first place? Because they like to cite verses like James 1-5 and 1 Corinthians 15-29 and many other verses. And you say, well, do you believe that when that was originally written, it was true? And if they said no, then that doesn't make any sense that they would want to cite that in an authoritative sense. And as we've said many times on this show, if a Latter-day Saint brings up a verse out of the Bible, you ask him, well, how do you know that is an accurate understanding of the text? How do you know that text is even supposed to be there? Whatever rule they can come up for determining that it should be and should be believed, don't you think that that same rule can be applied to other verses in the Bible as well?

Well, of course you would think that would be the case. But let me read you another definition. This is from the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Walter Elwell was the editor. And under the section of Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility, this is an essay in this book that was put together by Paul Feinberg. Paul Feinberg was a professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

He passed away in 2004. He starts off this section by saying, Inerrancy is 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 relates to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical or life sciences. What would you say about that?

I agree with that. That is what inerrancy is. Another theologian would agree with that. Wayne Grudem, who wrote the classic systematic theology, an introduction to biblical doctrine. And he says this, the inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. And he says this definition focuses on the question of truthfulness and falsehood in the language of Scripture. The definition in simple terms just means that the Bible always tells the truth and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about. Another theologian and Christian pastor, John MacArthur, he says inerrancy means literally without error. When applied to Scripture, it means that the Bible is without error in the original copies. It is therefore free when properly interpreted from affirming anything that is untrue or contrary to fact. And again, I'm saying the Latter-day Saint should want to say he believes in the inerrant Scripture because we're not talking about the copies.

That's the transmission part. But rather, we're talking about when it was originally written by the authors who were inspired by God. They were not automatic writers who had their hands come out and then God put a pen in it and started writing with it.

They actually used their own personality in there and they wrote what they were inspired to write. And that's what we accept as the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. In the original copies, called autographs, we believe that that is what inerrancy is. There's a slight difference between that and infallibility.

Infallibility is the idea that the original autographs were written exactly the way God intended. It's related, so the idea that God has given these men the ability to write that and that it is applicable for us today. Because the Bible says very clearly that it's been inspired by God, as I mentioned 2 Timothy 3. And 2 Peter 1.21 says that God made it available that human authors would write down what he intended.

This is a very important point. And for those who are Latter-day Saints or former Latter-day Saints, what I hate to see, Bill, is somebody who ends up leaving Mormonism and heading over to atheism or agnosticism and you ask them why. And they say, well, I just don't believe anything that the church taught. I don't believe the Bible is true. They don't maybe even believe Jesus anymore. Or if they do believe in Jesus, he was just a historical figure. And it's sad to me that because of all of the errors that they had been taught as a Latter-day Saint, they take that into their next area of life and they reject the Bible.

And you ask them, well, why don't you believe in the Bible? And a person who has left the church says, well, you know, it's full of errors. Well, they never had been taught, unfortunately, the value of the original manuscripts of the Bible. And as we're going to talk about later this week, I think the Bible is still trustworthy.

Ninety-nine percent of what the Bible has is made for us even today, that we can actually take those words and understand not only how to believe, but how to live. I think what's tragic is many Latter-day Saints, when they look at the second portion of what Joseph Smith said, where he talks about ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors. I think many Latter-day Saints, not understanding what we're dealing with here, just naturally assume that all those ignorant translations and careless transcribings or those errors made by designing and corrupt priests can't be known unless Joseph Smith or some leader in the LDS church tells you what they are. And I think that would be a serious error on the part of the Latter-day Saint to make that assumption.

But wouldn't you say that probably most of them do? That's why they need these living prophets as they understand them to guide them to point the way through these landmines of mistakes that are allegedly in the Bible. And then they'll take their word for it because they say they have Latter-day Revelation and the authority to tell them what to believe. And unfortunately we find, and I think this should be made clear, it's not usually the Latter-day Saint scholar that buys into that.

I don't see them using those kind of arguments. Occasionally it kind of creeps in in maybe some cases, but for the most part I find that many of the Latter-day Saint scholars when it comes to the Bible that we have, they tend to agree a lot with our biblical scholars. Bill, there's an article that is on our website, Why Inerrancy of the Bible is so Important to Evangelical Christians, and somebody can go to that article by going to slash BibleInerrancy, Bible with a hyphen and then inerrancy, I-N-E-R-R-A-N-C-Y. For more information on Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. Beginning on Saturday, March 6th, the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore will be reopening on Saturdays. If you're in the downtown Salt Lake City area, be sure and stop by to say hello to either Bill McKeever or Eric Johnson, who will be there from 1 to 5 p.m. Now once again, the bookstore is located just west of Smith's Ballpark at 1358 South on West Temple Street in Salt Lake City. That's on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Bill or Eric will be there. And of course, they look forward to seeing you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-20 08:57:24 / 2023-12-20 09:02:38 / 5

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