I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in conversation with others (many believers, some unbelievers) who say something like, “But the Bible says…” or “Somewhere I read in the Bible that…” You fill in the blank. However, it is often the case that the text does not say this or that. Typically I’ll respond with something like “But the text says…” Most of those I encounter are educated and intelligent, so it’s not the inability to pay attention to details. Why then are they not reading the text as it is written? Two possibilities come to mind:
- They have some preconceived notion of what the Bible says and read that notion into the text. This preconception blinds them to the details.
- They have a low view of Scripture’s source and authority and are coming to the text with a liberal and loose framework thinking “The text can’t really mean what it actually says.” Or, “Those ideas are outdated and don’t apply to our current culture and day.”
So I ask: Can we trust the Bible as it was written or do we just treat it like a “User’s Guide” with best practices and suggestions? Do we just invoke the Scriptures for our own ends or are we submitting to the Scriptures as God’s very Word? One of the summary statements from “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” says this:
Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
And, Article VI of the Statement reads:
We affirm that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration. We deny that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.
When rightly read and interpreted, every word, every clause, every phrase, every sentence, every paragraph, and every book in the library of books we call the Bible is the mind of God communicated by the heart of God to the people of God. And, surely everything God says is of ultimate importance and is relevant today. Our goal is to rightly understand it first, then seek to apply it to our lives where possible.
For some excellent sources on reading about inerrancy (trusting the accuracy and truthfulness of Scripture) see Some Suggested Reading on Inerrancy.