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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Answering Bible Difficulties

Don Stewart :: What Are the Consequences When the Doctrine of Inerrancy Is Rejected?

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What Are the Consequences When the Doctrine of Inerrancy Is Rejected?

Answering Bible Difficulties – Question 6

Some argue that the doctrine of inerrancy is not that important. They believe the key issue is a person’s relationship to Jesus Christ—not whether the Bible may or may not contain errors. However, those who advocate an errant Scripture have seriously undermined the Bible’s authority.

The following points need to be made about what occurs when the doctrine of inerrancy is denied:

1. The Bible Would Be Testifying Falsely about Itself

A denial of inerrancy means that Scripture is wrong when declaring God’s words are never wrong. Consequently, when the Bible says that God’s words are true it is telling a lie. If a person denies the doctrine of inerrancy, in effect, they are denying God’s Word. God tells us His Word is pure. In the book of Proverbs we read:

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6 NIV)

If there are any mistakes in that Word, then it is not pure. The Bible says that His Word is truth. Jesus said:

Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17 NET)

Yet, if it contains errors, then it is not truth. It has to be one or the other. The Word of God is either totally true or it is not. If it is not, then God has revealed Himself to humanity through untruths. Therefore, those who deny inerrancy are denying God’s Word.

2. God Would Be a Liar If There Are Errors in Scripture

If there are errors in Scripture, then God simply has not told us the truth concerning it. This would make God a liar. This brings up a number of questions. Can we, therefore, trust anything that the Bible says? If God is capable of speaking falsely on some matters, then He is capable of speaking falsely on all matters. We would never know when we could trust Him. Thus, those who accuse the Scripture of errors are also accusing the ultimate Author of Scripture, God, of being a liar.

If God somehow spoke falsely, no matter how incidental the reference, this still constitutes an untruth. God cannot be both the God of truth and the God of untruth at the same time. The idea of God being untruthful in any matter is not found in Scripture.

3. All of Scripture Becomes Open to Suspicion If There Are Any Errors

Even if the so-called, “errors” are in “minor” matters, the Bible is now opened up to suspicion in all other areas—including the major doctrines of the faith. If inerrancy falls, then all other Bible doctrines will eventually fall also. Without a clear Word from God, we are left without a firm foundation on any subject. Each individual would be the final determiner as to what God’s truth is and what is not God’s truth. If the inerrancy of the Bible is rejected, either completely or partly, then it is possible to miss the main message—salvation from sin, which is offered in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The Christian faith would be built upon sand, not upon the solid foundation of God’s Word. Jesus, however, said His Word was built upon a rock:

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24 NKJV)

The words of Scripture are built either on the rock, or on the sand. An errant Bible makes the foundation one of sand. Why should anyone trust anything that He says if we determine God has told us an untruth in one place in Scripture? This makes the entire Bible suspect. Why should we trust anything that it says? If He is capable of speaking falsely once, then He is capable of doing it more than once. Logically, we could not really trust anything that He said. We would never read Scripture with confidence.

4. Denial of Inerrancy Gives Christians the Right to Lie

If one is convinced that God, on occasion, spoke untruthful things, then it should be right for believers to do the same thing in certain situations. The Bible commands believers to imitate God. Paul wrote:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Ephesians 5:1 NASB)

Since we are commanded to imitate God, does this allow believers to speak untruths in certain situations? Should we not imitate God and lie when we think it is necessary? Those who reject an inerrant Bible give believers a basis for lying. If God intentionally spoke falsely, then why can’t we do the same for the “greater good”?

5. Believers Will Look to Other Sources of Authority for Guidance

If someone does not believe the Bible is the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God, then what is to stop them from turning to other sources as their ultimate authority? What they believe and practice will now be based upon church tradition, experience, unaided human reason, science, or mysticism. All of these avenues will lead them astray from the truth of God.

6. The Behavior of the Believer Will Change

The denial or even diluting of inerrancy will eventually result in lack of confidence in God’s Word. It cannot be otherwise. This, in turn, may affect the way in which we behave. If we do not believe everything that the Bible teaches, then why should we follow any of it? A Christian who rejects the inerrancy of Scripture may deviate only a little from following Christ, or they may deviate to a great degree. Whatever the case may be, they will deviate. Consequently, the denial of inerrancy will eventually be spiritually destructive in the life of the believer.

7. There Will Be a Loss of Interest in Studying Scripture

Denial of inerrancy will cause the believer to lose interest in the studying of God’s Word. If the Scripture contains errors, then why take the time to study it in detail? There is no need to attempt to find the meaning of the words of Scripture if those words are fallible. Therefore, the idea of studying an errant Bible does not make sense.

8. The Zeal for Missions and Evangelism Will Be Lost

One of the results of denying an inerrant Scripture is often the loss of zeal for preaching the Gospel of Christ and reaching the lost. If the Bible is errant, then it may be errant concerning the situation of those who have not believed in Jesus. Why then, should a person dedicate his or her life to reaching these people with the gospel?

9. Non-Christians Will Have No Reason to Believe in Jesus

Finally, there is the result of preaching and teaching an errant Bible for the non-believer. There is certainly no reason why non-Christians should embrace Christianity if the source of teaching, the Bible, is errant. The Bible becomes like any other book written by humans. Why then should any non-Christian desire to become a Christian if the sacred book of the faith is one that contains errors?

These are some of the logical results for denying the biblical doctrine of inerrancy. While not everyone who denies the inerrancy of Scripture necessarily follows each of these steps, there is certainly no logical reason why they should not.

All of these points demonstrate why the doctrine of inerrancy is vitally important. Our attitude toward the Lord and Scripture should be that of the psalmist:

The LORD exists forever; your word is firmly fixed in heaven. (Psalm 119:89 NRSV)

The doctrine of inerrancy emphasizes that we do have a Word from God that is firmly fixed in the heavens.

Summary – Question 6
What Are the Consequences When the Doctrine of Inerrancy Is Rejected?

The doctrine of inerrancy is important. Denial of inerrancy would be a denial of God’s truthfulness to us. He would be a liar if the Bible contained error. In addition, if one denies inerrancy, then the truth of the entire Bible comes under suspicion. Believers would be left without any solid foundation for faith. No one would be certain what was true and what was not.

Lack of belief in inerrancy opens the door to denying the major doctrines of the faith. One of the first doctrines to be rejected is salvation through Jesus Christ alone. While this may not happen with each person who rejects an inerrant Scripture, it is the logical result of denying inerrancy.

What Is the Difference Between the Inerrancy of Scripture and the Infallibility of Scripture? ← Prior Section
Can the Scripture Be Trustworthy If It Makes Mistakes in Scientific and Historical Statements? (Limited Inerrancy) Next Section →
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