If there’s one thing that makes people uncomfortable, it’s the idea that the Bible is actually true. And not just sort of true, or true in parts—like, true as far as spiritual realities, but not about anything else—but really true.
Truly true, if you will.
(And if I still had comments on the blog, I’m sure there’d be many a straw man coming my way right about now.)
What you and I need to know is that there are good reasons to believe this is true, this doctrine which goes by the name “inerrancy”. Christians, historically, have believed that the Bible is free from error of any kind. That no falsehood or deceit can be found in its pages. Every word is inspired by God.
It is truly true.
On a practical level, the “truly true”-ness of Scripture helps us to read, study, and live it as God meant for us to:
- It reminds us that context matters. Time, place and culture play a huge role in understanding exactly what was going on, as well as the purpose of why the books were written in the first place. If we ignore a text’s context, we risk misapplying it and injuring ourselves and those around us.
- It demands we honor literary devices and genres. We always read poetry as poetry, history as history and so on. The most ridiculous arguments against the Bible’s trustworthiness come from literalistic readings; that is, ignoring literary devices like phenomenological language, meaning descriptions of natural events as they appear to the human eye (think sunrise and sunset).
- It protects us from overturning Scripture in favor of modern science and culture. We should respect scientific study, of course. But Scripture holds our interpretation and acceptance of scientific findings in check, accepting what aligns with the Bible’s testimony, rejecting what does not, and being silent where silence is required.
This is a very simple rendering of this doctrine, of course. And it doesn’t stand alone. Inerrancy rests in God’s inspiration of Scripture, his preservation of Scripture, and in Scripture’s authority itself. All of these work together to help us understand the nature of Scripture. Does it make people uncomfortable? Sure. But if the Scriptures contain the good news we say it does, let’s never be afraid to call it what it is. God’s Word is true. In everything it teaches, it is always true. And that is great news for the us all.