Introduction: Today we begin a new periodic short series of blogposts that aim to give samples of the some of the great writings that have been written on the subject of Biblical Inerrancy. These pieces has been selected by the author to equip readers with well-reasoned, finely argued and pastoral excerpts that will strengthen confidence in the conviction of the Bible being God’s Word.
In today’s post we are featuring an excerpt that was written in a booklet produced in 1977 from the then existing: International Council on Biblical Inerrancy entitled: “Does Inerrancy Matter?” The little booklet deals in short order with positive arguments for inerrancy and common objections to it. In this particular excerpt, Dr. James Montogomery Boice, late Senior Pastor of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, writes about whether or not inerrancy is refuted by modern scholarship. Though the piece was written nearly thirty years ago, Boice’s arguments retain their soundness and can be useful in dealing with the repeated cycle of criticisms leveled against the text of the Bible.
Dr. Boice begins with the objection raised by critics, and then follows up with his answer.
Objection: Modern Scholarship
“Inerrancy is refuted by modern scholarship. It may have been possible to believe in inerrancy in a less knowledgable or sophisticate age, but we know today that this view is impossible.”
Dr. Boice’s Answer:
“What argument has persuaded you that the Bible has answers in it and is therefore not totally true? Are there real, provable errors? Or are you adopting the skeptical mindset of our contemporary unbelieving world? Once class of supposed errors is miracles. ‘The Bible must be making a mistake when it says that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, because dead men don’t rise,’ some say. ‘The iron could not float, the sun could not stand still.’ The issue here is not error but faith in God or lack of it. Just because you have not seen a resurrection does not mean that resurrections never occur. In fact, if God repeated miracles too often, they would cease to be miracles and would lose their evidential value. The real issue is whether or not there is a God such as the Bible depicts. If there is, then no miracle is beyond possibility. Besides, if you accept the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which you should, the other miracles are easy.”
“A second class of supposed errors has to do with moral issues. In Joshua the Jewish people are commanded by God to kill the Canaanites. Some regard this as an error, because on the basis of their own outlook “the killing of innocent people is morally wrong.” This forgets two important points. First, the Canaanites were far from innocent. Second, God is the Lord of life. He gave life and has the right to take it away. The only error here is the error of assuming you or other fallen beings have the right to pronounce on the rightness or wrongness of God’s decrees or actions.”
“The most significant class of supposed errors are apparent contradictions within the Bible. Examples would be the length of time Israel is said to have been in bondage in Egypt (Genesis 15:13 says it was 400 years, while Exodus 12:41 says it was 430 years) or the number of angels reported as being at Christ’s tomb following the Resurrection (John 20:12 mentions two, Matthew 28:2 only one). These are divergent ways of reporting the events, of course. But they are not contradictory.”
“The difference in the number of years the Jews are said to have been in Egypt may be the result of one writer starting from a different point than the other or of one giving an exact figure while the other is rounding the number off. So far as angels are concerned, if there were the two John reports, there was certainly one, as Matthew says. People who deny inerrancy try to give the impression that the discovery of problems like these has led them to abandon the inerrancy position. But these problems are not new. They have been known down through the centuries, and reasonable answers have been given to them. So far as the evidence goes, we have more evidence for a high view of the Bible today than in earlier times.”