The Infallible and Inerrant Bible - Part 02

March 6, 2012 | Pr. Finny Samuel |

Please note: For better understanding, please read the previous part of this study before reading this one. Click here to read Part 01 of this study

Evidence for Biblical Inerrancy

The available data strongly support the belief in inerrancy. The very fact that it is still possible today to claim the autographs were inerrant is an indication that no one has yet succeeded in showing there is even one substantial, undeniable, legitimate error or contradiction in our present copies. After all, the Bible has proved its reliability in many ways and in many areas, and stood the test of time. Methodological analyses of inerrancy categorize the testimonies about the inerrancy of the scriptures as follows:

1. Testimony of Logical Proof and Plenary Inspiration

The pillar of Christian faith is the doctrine of inspiration which states that the authors and editors of the Bible were led or influenced by God with the result that their writings may be designated as the word of God. This is rooted in the Biblical verse 2 Timothy 3:16. Since all scriptures are breathed out by the Almighty God Himself, it ought to be true and inerrant. God can neither lie nor teach truth using errors. This infallible character of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit essentially proves that the scripture which is inspired by God is also true and inerrant in every aspect. Furthermore, the logical proof shows that since God is truth (Romans 3:4, John 3:33 ), what is breathed out by God, must also be true (John 17:17) and infallible.

2. Testimony of Scriptures or Self Witness of Bible

Bible teaches its own infallibility and inerrancy.  Some critics bring forward a lame argument that the word inerrant is not seen in the Bible. Just because inerrancy is not a Biblical term does not mean that the concept of inerrancy is not taught in the Scripture. Important concepts like Trinity, rapture, etc. which are not Biblical terms are taken from Biblical content itself. Rather than the literal word, the concept is given importance. The main reason why we think the Bible is Inerrant is that the Scripture tells us so.

The legitimacy of considering the Bible’s self testimony as the basis of inerrancy doctrine need not be questioned. This is because the base of our faith is God himself who has attested the scriptures as the source of all true spiritual knowledge. Just like we consider scriptures as the primary source of advice in the doctrines like sin, salvation, judgment, and the future, we need to base the doctrine of inerrancy [which in turn is the building block of other doctrines] in the scripture itself. The Old Testament itself declares 3,808 times that it conveys the words of God Himself.  Most of the authors of the biblical books have confirmed that they are communicating God’s word and it is flawless.

Old Testament Writers

All prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Jonah, Micah, Joel, Amos, Zechariah, Obadiah, Zephaniah and Habakkuk has confirmed in their writings that they are conveying Words of God.

Moses declared that the law was given by God himself and warned Israelites not to add to or diminish from them. [Deuteronomy 4:2, 6:1-2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12:32].

Psalmists affirms that the word of God is:

  • Flawless [Psalms 12:6, Proverbs 30:5-6]
  • Eternal and stands firm [Psalms 119:89]
  • Perfect [Psalm 19:7, 119:96]
  • Truth [Psalm 119:43, 142, 151, 160]
  • Righteous [Psalm 119: 172]

New Testament Writers

Paul says the Word is Holy, Righteous, and good. [Romans 7:12, 1 Timothy 3:15]. He also testifies that it is inspired [2 Timothy 3:16, Romans. 3:2, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13,] and true [2 Timothy 2:15]. The apostle's teaching is so explicit in Galatians 3:16-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 4:8

Peter confirms the doctrine of inspiration [2 Peter 1:21, 3:2, 3:15-16] and declares that it is eternal, [1 Peter 1:25] living and active [1 Peter 1:23].
Author of the epistle to Hebrews also mentions that the word of God is living and active [Hebrews 4:12]

Apostle John concludes his revelation [Revelation 22:18-19] with the warning against human intervention for changing the Word of God.

Words of Jesus Christ

Since Jesus Christ is the example for Christians, it is perfectly sensible to consider his teachings and quotes as one of the most important criteria for evaluating the inerrancy of the scriptures. It is obvious from his words that our Lord Jesus had absolute confidence in the authenticity, factuality, and reliability of the scriptures. He proved the following aspects of his teachings:

  1. Historicity and factuality of the scriptures.

    During the ministry on the earth, Jesus attested many historical facts in the Old Testament.

    1. Adam and Eve [Matthew 19:3-5 and Mark 10:6-8]
    2. Flood in Noah’s days [Matthew 24:38-39, Luke 17:26-27]
    3. Destruction of Sodom [Matthew 10:15, Luke 17:28-29]
    4. Jonah’s experience in the belly of great fish [Matthew 12:40]
    5. The historicity of famous bible men like Isaiah (Matthew 12:17), Elijah (Matthew 17:11-12), Daniel (Matthew 24:15), Abel (Matthew 23:35), Zechariah (Matthew 23:35), Abiathar (Mark 2:26), David (Matthew 22:45), Moses (Matthew 8:4, John 5:46), Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 8:11, John 8:39)
  2. The entirety of the scriptures:

    Jesus affirms the plenary inspiration of the scripture in Matthew 4:1-11. Quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, He responded to Satan that man is to live by every word (plenary) that comes out of the mouth of God (inspiration). By attesting the finality of the scripture (usage of “It is written”) it is clear that Jesus negates all views of inerrancy in the Bible.

  3. The indestructibility of the scriptures

    In Matthew 5:17-18, Christ promised that the entire Old Testament, the Law, and the Prophets, would be fulfilled, not abolished pointing out that all of it is inspired and true. In Luke 16:17 also He mentions that not even a stroke of the pen [“jot” or “tittle”] in the scripture will be dropped out. Both verses establish the particularity of inerrancy (“jot,” “tittle”), and the extent of inerrancy (all Scripture). A basic understanding of the Hebrew alphabets may help in better understanding the significance of this statement. Below given is a table of Hebrew alphabets.

    The smallest letter Hebrew alphabet “Yod” (see picture) is referred to as ‘jot’ in the English translation. It may look like an apostrophe in English. The word “tittle” in English translation refers to minor and almost unnoticeable strokes that distinguish certain Hebrew letters from others. In the above picture, the letter “Dalet” and “Reish” is distinguished by a protrusion that in a normal font type would not be more than 1/16 of an inch. That tiny protrusion is referred to as tittle. This tittle can be observed in the comparisons of the letters “Beit” and “Kaf” as well. The presence or absence of “tittle” or “jot” could change the word and/or meaning of a statement. Jot and title may be scarcely compared to “letter and syllable” in the English language.

    What Jesus meant by using this comparison is that the scriptures are precisely accurate to the smallest possible pen stroke or letter. It is impossible to think of another expression to conclusively establish the meticulous accuracy, validity, and truth of the law. Based on this unique formula of assertion used by Jesus, if it is easier for heavens and earth to pass from existence than for a “jot or tittle” to be failed, it is very clear that even the minutest detail in the scriptures are infallible, authoritative, and trustworthy. This passage in Matthew clearly shows that Jesus had a view of plenary inspiration about the scriptures.
  4. Infallibility of the scriptures

    In John 10:31-38 Christ confidently clarifies the infallibility, accuracy, and reliability of the scriptures, even when his life was at stake on that matter. He refers Old Testament as the Law and quoting the Psalmist, [Psalm 82] points out that the judges in Israel were called “Gods” though they were mere humans, due to their God-given office. Stressing this fact, it was concluded that if a mere man can be referred to as “God” the Son of God who was sent to the earth is more suited for that word. The very fact that Jesus focused on the single word, “God” reveals that He affirms the verbal infallibility of scripture. He was emphasizing that the minutest part or even a part of the sentence, is inspired by God. Furthermore, in verse 35, He asserts that “the word cannot be broken” indicating the authoritative inspiration of the scriptures. Since only an inerrant nature can conclude this authority, it is clear that Jesus knew the scriptures are infallible.

  5. Inerrancy of the scriptures

    Matthew 22:23-33 is another instance where Jesus focused on specific written words rather than a general concept. Quoting God’s words to Moses, at the burning bushes, He clarifies the doctrine of life after death. He said that though He is the God of the living, by using present tense in identifying himself as God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob] it is implied that they are living before God, after their physical death in the earth. When man ignores the usage of “I am” vs. “I was” as an insignificant matter, God had a specific reason to use that part of speech exactly like that. From Jesus’ teaching of this passage of the scripture, it is understood that He affirms

    • Historical inerrancy of the scriptures: Attesting to the life of Moses
    • Prepositional inerrancy of the scriptures: Attesting to the Verbal or plenary accuracy
    • Doctrinal inerrancy of the scriptures: Attesting the doctrine of life after death
    • Factual inerrancy of the scriptures: Attesting that Nothing in scripture is insignificant
  6. Authority of the scriptures

    In Matthew 22: 41-46 Jesus clarifies the authority of scriptures to his listeners. Quoting Psalm 110:1, he asked Pharisees how David can call Messiah as his Lord if Messiah is his son, to which they had no answer. The only possible way is that the Messiah is both God and Man. This clearly shows that Jesus acknowledged that the passages in the scriptures which are not be properly understood by everyone in the true context do not imply an error or difficulty, rather it simply proves the authority of the bible, since God never makes a mistake as a human does. Thus it is clearly understood that Jesus, the God incarnate, himself has pronounced that the Bible is infallible, inspired, inerrant and hence totally trustworthy.

3. Testimony of Scientific, Historic and Prophetic Accuracy

For those who oppose the presupposition of inerrancy truth, lot of historical and scientific evidence exists to prove the accuracy of the Bible. 

  1. Bible does not contradict any known scientific fact

Though the Bible was not written as a work of science, wherever the Bible describes the physical world, it is accurate. A common but lame attack by the liberals on the Bible is in the usage of “Sunrise” or “Sunset” in the scriptures. However, they do not consider that even in the languages in the modern world, we do use these terms in literature and it does not refer that Sun is moving. The theory of evolution was an unsuccessful attempt by a human to question the creation defined in the Bible.

As a matter of fact, several centuries before the scientific inventions by man, Bible has proclaimed, many science facts such as the following:

  • The universe is expanding [Job 9:8, Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 40:22, Isaiah 42:5, Isaiah 44:24, Isaiah 45:12, Isaiah 48:13, Isaiah 51:13, Jeremiah 10:12, Jeremiah 51:15, Zechariah 12:1]
  • The universe is winding down and will "wear out" (second law of thermodynamics ensures that the universe will run down due to "heat death"-maximum entropy) [Psalm 102:25-27]
  • Number of stars exceeds billions [Genesis 22:17, Jeremiah 33:22]
  • Every star is different [1 Corinthians 15:41]
  • Pleiades & Orion as gravitationally bound star groups [Job 38:31]
  • Light is in motion [Job 38:19-20]
  • The earth is controlled by the heavens [Job 38:33]
  • Earth is a sphere [Isaiah 40:22, Job 26:10]
  • At any time, there is day and night on the Earth [Luke 17:34-35]
  • Earth is suspended in space [Job 26:7]
  • Earth began as a water world. Formation of continents by tectonic activity described [Genesis 1:2-9, Psalm 104:6-9, Proverbs 3:19, Proverbs 8:27-29, Job 38:4-8, 2 Peter 3:5]
  • Water cycle [Ecclesiastes 1:7, Isaiah 55:10, Job 36:27-28]
  • Ocean currents in the sea [Psalm 8:8]
  • Air has weight [Job 28:25]
  • The chemical nature of human life [Genesis 2:7, 3:19]
  • Life of creatures are in the blood [Leviticus 17:11]
  • The nature of infectious diseases [Leviticus 13:46]
  • Importance of sanitation to health [Numbers 19, Deuteronomy 23:12-13, Leviticus 7-9]
  • Earth began as a water world. Formation of continents by tectonic activity described [Genesis 1:2-9, Psalm 104:6-9, Proverbs 3:19, Proverbs 8:27-29, Job 38:4-8, 2 Peter 3:5]

It is interesting to know that science textbooks are constantly being rewritten. With the discovery of quantum physics, the theories of classical physics have to be revisited. With the revelation of relativity, we can no longer be certain of the environment we are living in. compared to the absolute and unchanging nature of God and His Word, the nature of science is so uncertain and changing.

  1. Bible does not contradict itself

Many critics vainly try to accuse Bible of contradicting itself without knowing the fact that a difficulty is not a contradiction. Some apparent contradictory statements are harmonized upon gaining more information. Most contradictory statements are only superficial and taken out of context.

  1. Bible does not contradict any historical events

Throughout the Bible, we can see God’s divine intervention in human history for fulfilling the eternal plan. These interventions are proven in numerous modern archeological and historical inventions. These proofs can be laid out in different categories:

  • Documentary analysis

    In modern historical science, several techniques are available for dating documents and traditions, verifying events reported in those documents, and reconstructing and interpreting those reports. These techniques are effectively used in defending the inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures. By analyzing the textual content of the scriptures using the tools available in historical sciences, one can conclude the source, authenticity and infallibility of the Bible.

    • Example 1: Critics argue that since God is given 2 different names in Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2, the authors of these 2 chapters may be different. However, it is known that there have been discoveries of differing uses for the name of god even in other cultures. We find an example of this in Homer's epics with no need for source division. The word "Elohim" is used to refer to God as the Almighty Creator of the universe while the word "Yahweh" is the covenant name for God, which is reserved for situations in which covenant engagement of God is involved. Hence the usage of 2 words is not referring to 2 authors; instead, it shows 2 different aspects of God in related events.
    • Example 2: Critics speculate that chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis represent two different creation stories. This argument is wrong since this technique of recapitulation was widely practiced in ancient Semitic literature. The author first introduces his account with a short statement as a summary, and then he follows it up with a more detailed, circumstantial account when dealing with matters of special importance.
    • Example 3: Some critics use Aramaisms [usage of Aramaic words] to divide the text of Scripture into various sources assuming that Aramaic words did not become part of the Hebrew language until after the exile. However, this was proven untrue due to recent archeological discoveries that show Hebrew words used by non-Jews of some regions. Given the biblical account, we can reason that Abraham migrated to a region where the Aramaic language was spoken and he learned the language to gradually adopt the tongue of his neighbors.
    • Example 4: Despite critics' assertion that Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch [First 5 books in Bible], there is significant evidence to the contrary. On analyzing the text of the scripture, it is evident that Exodus 17:14, Exodus 24:4, Numbers 33:1-2, and Deuteronomy 31:9 attribute authorship to Moses. It is to be noted the fact that the author of Pentateuch uses more Egyptian words than others sheds light on the authorship of Moses. The texts also clearly depict the first-hand experience with Manna, Egyptian culture, etc. to the author.
  • Archeology

    Biblical archaeology is the archaeology that relates to, and sheds light upon, the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Certain discoveries from countries in the Middle East [Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine] have contributed the most to the development of archeology that helps Bible students. Recent years have witnessed a lot of archeological findings supporting the accuracy of biblical scriptures. Some of the major findings are:

    • 1947 – Dead Sea Scrolls: Among the more than eight hundred documents represented by whole scrolls, incomplete scrolls, and a myriad of fragments which have been recovered are complete copies or portions of all the books in the Hebrew Bible (our OT), except for the Book of Esther.
    • 1993 – Proof of King David's existence. At an ancient mound called Tel Dan, in the north of Israel, words carved into a chunk of basalt were translated as "House of David" and "King of Israel" proving that he was more than just a legend.
    • 1979 – Amulet Scroll: A rolled-up amulet dating to 6thcentury, bearing the Tetragrammaton, the name of God (the consonantal letters yod, he, waw, he), YHWH was found in one of the tombs in Hinnom Valley of Jerusalem. The scripture passage on the amulet is from the Aaronic or priestly blessing found in Num 6:24-25.
    • 1986 – Two-thousand-year-old Galilee boat excavated from Sea of Galilee. It is estimated that the boat could hold some fifteen individuals, similar to the boats in which Jesus and his twelve disciples traveled across the sea (See Matt 8:18, 23-27, 9:1, 14:13- 14, 22-32, 15:39, 16:5; Mark 4:35-41, 5:18, 21, 6:32-34, 45-51, 8:9-10, 13-14; Luke 6:1, 8:22-25, 37, 40; John 6:16-21).
    • The 1970s – Baruch Bulla: Hardened clay seal impression that had survived in damp earth containing the stamp and name of the scribe of Jeremiah. This bulla was found to be from the impression of Baruch ben Neriah, the scribe who wrote to the dictation of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:4).
    • 1990 – Ossuary of Caiaphas: The ossuary contained the remains of six people: two infants, a child aged two to five, a boy aged 13 to 18, an adult female, and a man about 60 years old. The latter are believed to be the bones of Caiaphas, before whom Jesus was brought for questioning (Matt 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49, 18:13, 14, 24, 28; Acts 4:6)
    • 1961 – Pontius Pilate Inscription: A dedicatory stone that bore a three-line inscription: Tiberium / [Pon]tius Pilatus / [Praef]ectus Iuda[eae], "Tiberius [the Roman emperor of the period]/Pontius Pilate/Prefect of Judea." The inscription not only confirms the historicity of Pilate, but it also clarifies the title that he bore as governor.

      The archeological findings related to the Bible are too numerous to be listed here. All points to the fact that the Bible is free from errors.

  • Accuracy in Prophesies

    The Genuine prophecies listed in the Bible are the most evidential for substantiating the Bible’s claim to divine inspiration. The amount of predictive matter in the Bible is 8,352 verses out of its total 31,124. This means that the portion of the Bible that is predictive is 27% (28.5% in the Old Testament and 21.5% in the New Testament). There is no other Scripture on the face of the earth, nor has there ever been, which even comes close to this kind of predictive ability. Every prophecy in the Bible that is intended to the period till date is fulfilled with 100% accuracy. No other predictions in the world can claim this accuracy. Some of the major historical events which were predicted in the Bible decades and centuries before its happening are listed below:

    • The reign of King Cyrus [Isaiah 44:28 to Isaiah 45:6]
    • Babylonian captivity of Judah [Isaiah 39:5-7]
    • Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires [Daniel 2, 7, 11:1-35]
    • Reign of King Josiah [1 Kings 13:1-2]
    • Return of Israel to home town after Babylonian captivity [Jeremiah 32: 36,37]
    • The fall of the following towns: Edom [Jeremiah 49:16], Tyre [Ezekiel 36: 3-5], Samaria [Micah 1:16], Gaza and Ashkelon [Jeremiah 47: 5, Zephaniah 2:4-6], Palestine [Ezekiel 36: 33,35, Leviticus 26: 31,33]
    • Messianic Prophecies:
      • Virgin Birth -- Isaiah 7: 14 -- Matthew 1 :18,20,25
      • From the tribe of Judah -- Genesis 49:10, -- Luke 3: 23,33
      • Born in Bethlehem -- Micah 5:2 -- Matthew 2:1
      • Named as Immanuel -- Isaiah 7:14 -- Matthew 1: 23
      • Ministry of Miracles -- Isaiah 35:5,6 -- Matthew 9: 25
      • Forsaken by disciples -- Zechariah 13:7 -- Matthew 26: 56
      • Betrayed by friend -- Psalms 49: 9 -- John 13: 21
      • Sold for 30 silver coins -- Zechariah 1:12,13 -- Matthew 26.15, 27: 5
      • Tortured and mocked -- Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 50:6, Psalms 22:78 -- Matthew 27: 26,30,31
      • Body gets pierced -- Psalms 22: 16, Zechariah 2:10 -- John 20:25
      • Crucified with robbers -- Isaiah 53:12 -- Matthew 27: 38
      • Garments gets divided -- Psalms 22:18 -- John 19: 23, 24
      • No bones are broken -- Nahum 9: 12 -- Matthew 19:33-36
      • Raised from dead -- Psalms 16:10 -- Acts 2:31
  • Confirmation in Church Histories

    The Christian church for all these past 2000 years has held fast to the doctrine of inerrancy. When Errantists maintain that inerrancy has not been the historic position of the Church they are either unacquainted with the data or refuse to accept it. As Lindsell states: There is no evidence to show that errancy was ever a live option in the history of Christendom for eighteen hundred years in every branch of the Christian Church that had not gone off into aberration. Bible has stood the test of time. Its authors are proven trustworthy over the centuries.

Conclusion

There is no middle ground or partial inerrancy. The whole of the original autographs of the Bible is verbally inspired, divinely infallible and absolutely inerrant. Man’s knowledge has often proved unreliable and limited. However, in spite of the wealth of confirmation for 2,000 years, even in light of 200 years of recent skeptical attack, the Bible has proved its reliability in many ways and in many areas, and it is absolutely worthy of our trust.

References:

  • Reliability Of The Canon by Dr. Johnson C. Philip and Dr. Saneesh Cherian
  • http://bible.org
  • http://jashow.org
  • http://ankerberg.com
  • http://jashow.org
  • http://mb-soft.com
  • http://givingananswer.org
  • http://yutopian.com
  • http://biblicalstudies.info

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