When we think of how trustworthy the Bible is to consistently tell us the truth, it concerns us whether-or-not errors can be found that could discredit its reliability. Inerrancy is a term used among students of Scripture that means the Bible has the benefit of the doubt. Some prefer the word infallible, perhaps thinking it to provide more wiggle room. My choice is inerrancy because it respects the exactitude we expect from our Most High God, a challenge He will one day be seen to have mastered. Those that have a high view of Scripture regard the Bible we read to be without error - and not glibly so, or without sufficient warrant.
Paul wrote a final letter to his protégé Timothy for his encouragement. In it he insisted,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for doctrine (that establishes the footing of Christian assemblies), reproof(of error), correction (of our error) and for instruction in righteousness (what is right for proper living in the eyes of our creator).” II Timothy 3:16 [parenthesis mine]
The Bible Paul read was Israel’s Bible. What he had to work with as an apostle with apostle’s credentials, is concepts he gained from the Old Testament Law and Prophets coupled with what the Spirit of God revealed directly to him, the traditions of the young Jewish assembly, the word of the apostles whom the Lord trained in person, and Luke’s research. In anyone’s estimation, it’s a pretty great accomplishment for Paul to live under such duress and threat to life and yet in all his days leading right up to his beheading retain his high view of the Lord’s word through these different channels. He was executed without recant.
Peter also retained an indominable high view of his Bible. As the first of the Lord’s apostles (sent ones) to be given the reigns of leadership in the Christian movement, Simon Peter was honored the burden of carrying the keys to the Lord ‘s kingdom, to approve the various groups that would respond to their story. In his second letter we find these words written just a short time prior to his crucifixion,
“No Scripture is of private interpretation, but holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter 1:19, 20
In fact, all the apostles that witnessed the resurrection of Jesus died with their testimonies intact. At least a few of them had the opportunity to read some of what the earliest authors of the Gospels had written and affirm it with their blood.
In the third chapter, Peter in this same letter will go on to rate Paul’s letters to the various assemblies abroad as Scripture in their own right (II Peter 3:15).
This is not to infer the inerrancy question is a small matter to contend with.
So, Luke for one, tells us in his opening introduction to his gospel the pains he took as an author to get all the facts down accurately. He apparently spoke to a number of reliable sources for the events, teaching points and dialogue to provide Theophilus the best possible representation of the Lord’s actions and words. Each of the four Gospel authors did similarly but with their own flair and reason for writing. The honest scholar recognizes this as well as the fact that ancient historians often viewed their work differently than modern and particularly western reporters. It meant more to them to convey a story for its meaning in an order that befitted their purpose or helped their culture saturated readers memorize the essentials.
Another mistake too often made is to assign a mentality of deception for the sake of delusion to the authors. They wrote their testimonies and expositions based upon ethics derived from the Law of Moses. They were forbidden, as we all are, to give false witness. All the stories and accounts in the Old Testament fall under this rule (Romans 2:17-24). Paul’s own rule of thumb that he passed along was “Search the Scriptures and see if what we said fits what they say, and examine all things, prove them and hold fast to what you find to be true.” Acts 17:11; I Thessalonians 5:21 [attribution and paraphrase mine]
Following this line of defense, the fact that we have four Gospel records supports an argument toward inerrancy. The old rule of two or three witnesses fits here. The Lord saw to it we had not just three but four records by four different authors (two of which were eyewitnesses), obviously not in collusion, as assurance the testimony they bore was valid.
The inerrancy of the Bible is to be judged accordingly.
The Bible is arguably the most amazing book we have ever possessed and has withstood the fiery blasts of its critics with its integrity intact for over 3 millennia. It seems like more evidence of its wonder and inerrancy comes to light every year. The stamp of divine authorship is, as we say, on every page.
The same rock that is the foundation for a believer is a stumbler for the rebel in heart. The one that trusts in the Lord’s word as conveyed to us in the Bible, builds his or her life upon solid ground.
Grace today y’all