This view of infallibility and inerrancy being the same is challenged today. Some would say that the Bible is infallible in areas of “Faith and Practice” or that the Bible is without error when it teaches us how to be saved and how to live the Christian life. The reason the Bible is infallible in these two areas, they say, is because this is the reason the Bible was written. But in areas of history and science the Bible is not inerrant. This is the view of Jack B. Rogers and Donald McKim in The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible.
A Definition of Inerrancy
Wayne Grudem gives a very good definition of inerrancy (the doctrine that there were no errors in the original writning of Scripture): “The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact” (Systematic Theology, page 90). Ryrie adds to this definition: “The Bible tells the truth. Truth can and does include approximations, free quotations, language of appearances, and different accounts of the same event as long as these do not contradict” (Basic Theology, page 82).
Importance of Inerrancy
The Domino Effect took place at Fuller Theological Seminary which was founded in 1947 by Charles Fuller when inerrancy was abandoned.
Their first doctrinal statement read:
“The books which form the canon of the Old and New Testaments as originally given are plenarily inspired and free from all error in the whole and in the part. These books constitute the written Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” I think you agree with me, that this is a Biblical statement.
Every faculty member was to sign without mental reservation or voluntarily leave. In 1962, one board member denied inerrancy and nothing was done. Later two faculty members denied inerrancy and nothing was done. The first dimino fell.
In 1972, Fuller adopted a new doctrinal statement:
“Scripture is an essential part and trustworthy record of this divine disclosure. All the books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, are the written Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” One all important statement is omitted from the first statement: “free from all error in the whole and in the part.” Thus you have denial of inerrancy.
Five years later (1977) Fuller’s professor Paul King Jewett in his Man as Male and Female said Paul’s teaching about the subordination of woman to male leadership in Ephesians 5 is an error and in contradiction to Galatians 3:28. In other words, now at Fuller, according to Jewett’s view, the Scripture is infallible only in the area of faith or salvation.
Look at the downward spiral which took place at Fuller.
1. Fuller went from believing the infallibility of all Scripture (in their first doctrinal statement).
2. Fuller then move to believing the infallibility of the Scripture only in faith and practice but no longer in inerrancy of Scripture at this point (seen in second doctrinal statement).
3. Finally, Fuller move to believing the infallibility of Scripture only in the area of salvation (Jewett’s view) or the Scripture is only inerrant when speaks of salvation.
Neo-Orthodoxy made it’s influence on Fuller Seminary through Daniel Fuller who went to Bazil, Switzerland, to study under Neo-Orthodox theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968), who did not believe in inerrancy. Barth wrote about his view of errancy in his Church Dogmatics: “The Bible witnesses to a revelation from God …..The prophets and apostles are actually guilty of error in their spoken and written word” (pages 507, 528, 529).
“The illustration that the Neo-Orthodox usually gives is that the Bible is like a minister preaching the Gospel. Although there may be many mistakes in his sermon, he is still witnessing to the truth, and this is sufficient to secure salvation for men” (Steward Custer, Does Inspiration Demand Inerrancy, p. 75.).
In 1978, the International Council of Biblical Inerrancy met at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago consisting of 300 noted scholars, to combat this heresy and produced The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy. Article XI reads, “We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses. We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.”
What is the Scriptural teaching on inerrancy?
1. God can not lie (Heb. 6:18)
2. God breathed out (inspired) the Bible (2nd Tim. 3:16)
3. Therefore the Bible is true. “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Prov. 30:5).
What is our response to this reasoning that does not see the infallibility and inerrancy as the same?
The Bible declares that “all Scripture is inspired.” The term “Scripture” includes the O.T. (Lk. 24:44), the gospels (Lk. 4:21) and the N.T. epistles (2nd Pet. 3:16). The New Testament authors trusted the smallest historical details from the Old Testament.
Hebrew 11:3 makes a scientific statement that must be accepted by faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
On page 94 of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology is a long list of O.T. historical events referred to in the New Testament as true.
As far as the writers of Scripture were concerned, infallibility and inerrancy are equal.