This is a series of posts on inerrancy as found in Zondervan’s new book, Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology). This book contains the views, in their own words, of 5 Biblical and Theological schoars: Dr. Al Mohler, Dr. Peter Enns, Dr. Michael Bird, Dr. Kevin Vanhooser, and Dr. John Franke.
As we continue to look at Al Mohler’s chapter, Mohler moves to connect the ideas of inerrancy and the inspiration in the Bible. He says:
Here it is necessary to make the point that the inerrancy of the Bible is inextricably linked to a specific understanding of its inspiration. Inerrancy requires and defines verbal inspiration—the fact that God determined the very words of the Bible in the original text. A rejection of biblical inerrancy usually contains a rejection of verbal inspiration as well. This is why article 6 of the CSBI states, “We affirm that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.”
He then goes on to define his understanding of inspiration:
Note carefully that this view of inspiration does not imply divine dictation, with the human authors limited to the role of secretaries. To the contrary, verbal inspiration (specifically, a verbal plenary understanding of inspiration) affirms that God, through the Holy Spirit, sovereignly superintended the lives of the human authors and made intentional use of their own individuality. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the human authors of Scripture freely wrote what the Holy Spirit divinely inspired, so that when the Scripture speaks, God speaks. The actual mode of divine inspiration, the CSBI notes, “remains largely a mystery to us” (article 7).
The idea of inerrancy has a foundation on the trustworthiness of God. He states:
The focus on God’s trustworthiness underlines the personal nature of God’s gift of his own self-revelation. God intended not merely to give the church a collection of infallible and inerrant facts but also to reveal himself—and to do so in a manner that is completely trustworthy. Our trust in the Scriptures is entirely dependent upon our trust in God. In the same way, a lack of confidence in the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Bible reveals a lack of confidence in either God’s ability or his intention—or both—to give his people a trustworthy revelation.
And what of any apparent discrepancies within Scripture? Mohler relies heavily on the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy in stating:
God’s revelation in the Bible is progressive. Nevertheless, later revelation never corrects or contradicts previous revelation. The whole of Scripture and every part, “down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration” (article 6). The perfections of Scripture cannot be affirmed of the whole without including every part..Every word of the Bible is inerrant, not just texts limited to redemptive themes. “We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood” (article 12). Inerrancy is a necessary term, but it is not to be used “to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose” (article 13). The Scriptures are a unity and are internally consistent. “Alleged errors and discrepancies” not yet resolved do not “vitiate the truth claims of the Bible” (article 14).
Dr. Mohler sums up this argument by stating:
The affirmation of biblical inerrancy is necessary for the health of the church and for our obedience to the Scriptures. Though necessary, it is not sufficient, taken by itself, to constitute an evangelical doctrine of Scripture. Evangelicals must embrace a comprehensive affirmation of the Bible as the Word of God written. In the end, inspiration requires inerrancy, and inerrancy affirms the Bible’s plenary authority. The Bible is not inerrant, and thus the Word of God; it is the Word of God, and thus inerrant. The affirmation of biblical inerrancy means nothing more, and nothing less, than this: When the Bible speaks, God speaks.