Systematic Theology 5: The Four Characteristics of Scripture (1.5) Inerrancy

In my defence the book does say “Four characteristics” even though it gives five. This is the bonus one, Inerrancy’. It is usually covered under ‘Authority’ (see previous post). But due to the cultural context of today, where ‘truth’ is considered more and more subjective and God’s word is seen as an optional Pick N Mix, it needed its own chapter.

The Inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. The Bible always tells the truth and it does so concerning everything it talks about.

I was personally, really glad it got it’d own chapter. As I have found that the truthfulness of scripture is one of the “barriers of belief” for so many people.

Wayne Grudem clarifies that the Bible can be inerrant and still speak the ordinary language of everyday speech. For example talking about the “sun rising” even though the sun doesn’t technically “rise”.

He uses the helpful comparison of phrases which are all true/inerrant, and yet different. Consider:

  • I don’t live far from my office
  • I live a little over a mile from my office
  • I live a mile from my office
  • I live 1.282 miles from my office

Therefore, Biblical statements can be imprecise and still be true: Inerrancy is about the truthfulness, not about the degrees of precision. Such a helpful distinction.

He then outlines six common challenges to inerrancy, (see below for full notes) and then counters each one providing helpful reasoning.

Finally, he raises four problems for a Christian who denies the Inerrancy of Scripture. These include 1) a moral problem (should we imitate a God who lies), 2) a trust problem (can we trust a God who lies/bends truth), 3) an idol problem (do we become the judge of truth) and 4) a doctrine problem (if we can ignore minor doctrines why can’t we ignore major ones).

Please see below my full notes. As always if you are interested in buying this book and studying it for yourself or following along, please do use my affiliate link and support the blog.

Systematic Theology 4: The Four Characteristics of Scripture (1) Authority

We’re continuing our study of the Word of God, by looking at four distinct characteristics of scripture. These are:

  • Authority
  • Clarity
  • Necessity
  • Sufficiency
  • (Inerrancy)

These four characteristics can be rearranged for the purposes of memory into the acronym SCAN(I). Please find below my notes for Wayne Grudem’s chapter on the Authority of Scripture.

“The Authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God”

The chapter asserts that all the words in Scripture are God’s words because 1) this is what the Bible claims for itself, 2) we are convinced of this as we read the Bible, 3) other evidence (such as historical & internal consistencies, anecdotal, fulfilled prophecies etc) is useful but not finally convincing!

4) The words of Scripture are self attesting. This means they appeal to their own authority, whilst this is a circular argument, it does not disqualify the claim. Since any argument for ultimate truth but do so by appealing to itself. (E.g. I know the tower is real, because I see it, therefore my seeing it makes something real, I am appealing to my sense of sight to determine truth).

Grudem then goes on to explain that dictation from God is not the sole means of communication. He also uses prophets, writers, dreams, visions, Jesus and other mysterious and unknown methods.

As always if you want to support this blog, and you’re interested in studying Systematic Theology for yourself you can get the textbook using my affiliate link here.

*Apologies for any zooming you will have to do to see these notes properly.

This paragraph was especially meaningful to me, as it links the Doctrine of the Authority of Scripture to preaching! I loved it!
Finally Grudem lays out the truthfulness of Scripture as a source of it’s authority.

As a side note, for those readers who are invested in the schedule of Blog posts. This was intended to be published last Saturday. However due to circumstances with “two socially distanced” weddings this weekend I was unable to post. I intend to offer a fuller explanation on Sunday, with my month summary!

New Book – New Seeds of Contemplation

Can’t promise I’ll be making notes on every chapter, but this is what I’ve just started. It’s a little out of my comfort zone and a little “left field” from what I’m used to.

But it was highly recommended from a friend/mentor I look up and respect! Wish me luck!

Chapter 1 explored ‘What is Contemplation?’. The best summary I found was “Contemplation is the awareness and realisation, even in some sense experience, of what each Christian obscurely believes: it is no longer I who live, but Christ who live in me”.

In other words, its about being aware that Christ is living in us, and this awareness being an experience.

It’s a little over my head, but I’m prepared to engage with it. This will definitely stretch me in my faith!

I’ve included an affiliate link in case anyone is interested and wants to read as well. The book was pretty tricky to get in the UK and I had to wait a month. New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton