While riding on a bus with some friends I was surprised by something that had never really challenged me. I was 23 years old and had never been legitimately confronted with this question before. While discussing several hot topics with different Christian leaders, the topic of scripture came up. Is the bible inerrant was the posed question. One person made the statement that it is but was completely challenged by another. The discussion rallied through my mind for months following. My whole life I had accepted the bible to be Gods word written for mankind. But then one day the thought came up, “Is the bible really fully inspired?” “Does it hold authority?” “Does it hold fallacies or errors?” This plagued my mind.
I didn’t rest well with this convo for a while. I called former pastors and friends who were on both sides. One side was saying “just believe that it’s true” while the other was saying “they can’t say they know if it’s truth”. I was torn. This seemed like it would shatter my world. I loved the scriptures. If I couldn’t rely on them then how would I know what really happened. If those bricks were gone then the whole house would begin to collapse.
Four years later and I have made a complete circle since those days. It was a tough time though. I didn’t know what to accept and what to believe. Thankfully though, with theological humility and a devotion to Jesus, I have come back to knowing and understanding the authority of scripture in a new light.
To build on the authority of scripture I must start with Jesus and move out. I have a professor who says that the entire bible should be red-lettered because it is all the words of Christ.
Jesus believed that the scriptures were perfect in every detail (Matthew 5:17-18, John 10:35, John 17:17)
17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
In the NKJV and the original Hebrew, verse 18 actually say’s no jot or tittle. A jot and tittle are small letters and punctuations in Hebrew that can be brushed by if not paid attention to.
Jesus takes a second to defend his teachings so people understand that they are not contrary to the scriptures. In fact, they fulfill the scriptures. He is the scriptures. That is the reason John 1 begins by exclaiming that the Word(Jesus) was with God and is God. Jesus is the word. The scriptures in the old testament all point to him. Each word in essence is an arrow pointing towards him, the messiah.
And not the slightest detail of the scriptures will be waivered before heaven and earth pass away.
In John 10:35 Jesus is defending his divinity against other Jews who were seeking to kill him for equating himself with god. In the midst of this defense, Jesus makes a small but powerful statement.
35“If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)
This small statement, “The scripture cannot be broken” lays out an understanding that Jesus had about the scriptures. He made a slight remark while giving his defense but the remark shows that he and the other Jews believed Gods word to be fully inspired and unbroken.
While Jesus was praying for his followers, he made this mention to his father on his followers behalf…
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
His hope was that we would be sanctified in God’s word. This ought to be an encouragement to us as we wrestle through the authority of scripture is that he has a hope for us to be sanctified in God’s word. And he believes that God’s word is truth.
This is all on top of the fact that Jesus references to truth of scripture coincide with the fact that he mentions the most criticized Old Testament stories. If you doubt these stories you are calling Jesus a liar:
-Adam and Eve
-Sodom and Gomorrah
-Jonah and the Whale
These are just a few of the stories Jesus mentions in scripture.
This is where I started, when doubting scripture, was with Jesus and who he was. Even if I doubt the relevance of scripture, I would have to agree that having 4 different testimonies(4 gospel writers) that point to the same thing builds a sufficient argument for it’s validity. If we were to goto court about an incident that happened in a crowd of hundreds of people, and 4 testimonies were the same and no one disagreed from the crowd with those testimonies, we would make Johnny Cochran sweat with that many people willing to go forward. That, to me, was sufficient evidence to trust his words. And to top it off he is the most documented person in human history. His existence is undeniable.
What about the New Testament?
After hearing what he had to say about the Old Testament and realizing that he believed those to be the very words of God, I wanted to find validity for the New Testament. After all, it was written in Greek. I figured that if one of them was wrong it would probably be the New Testament.
If you are questioning the New Testament on any estimate, you must make a decision about Paul. Paul wrote most of the New Testament books. His books brought much of the controversy that is debated today. And to be honest, the problems many people have when they question the New Testament can be traced to Paul most likely. Jesus used him to help shape the church theologically following his (Jesus) ascension.
Peter who we know was an apostle of Jesus wrote two books that were canonized with scripture. Towards the end of his last book, he wrote about the difficulty in understanding certain teachings.
2 Peter 3:14-16
14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Peter affirms Paul’s writings as scripture. He speaks of them equally as scripture. Paul and Peter both being Jewish wouldn’t ever equate something with scripture that wasn’t equal with it.
As for the rest of the new testament, each book is either an apostle or a close associate of an apostle (Mark, Luke, James, Jude).
Why does all of this matter?
This matters because God reveals his nature to us. He gives us description in who he is. He tells of what he does. He even sometimes will tell us how he does certain things. But this is what separates our God from other gods is that he displays how personal he really is. If the bible wasn’t fully true or fully complete, we’d have no way to know of our God and how he has related to his people.
I believe that the bible is the breath of God. Nothing needs to be added or taken away. I believe that its autographs(Original Copies) were completely inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit through the fingers of men.