Introduction: Over the past several posts we have been featuring authors and writings that I have simply entitled: “Great Writings on Biblical Inerrancy”. The aim of this series of blogs has been to equip and introduce the reader to a collection of well argued and clearly worded writings on Biblical inerrancy. Today’s post will be the final post in this series, featuring a more recent example of great writing on the subject of Biblical inerrancy by Dr. Wayne Gudem. Dr. Grudem wrote his volume: “Systematic Theology” in 1994, with many theological institutions utilizing it as a standard reference text. Thankfully the entire text of Dr. Grudem’s work can be downloaded as a pdf file by simply typing in “Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.pdf”, with the below excerpt taken from that file.
The point made by Dr. Grudem in the excerpt below concerns the Truthfulness of Scripture. In short, to assert the truthfulness of scripture in all its parts and words is identical to asserting the Bible’s inerrancy, infallibility and thus its authority. Dr. Grudem bases much of his argument off of God’s very character. The value of this piece is to show that the Biblical author’s themselves not only implied inerrancy, but explicitly stated the scriptures to be inerrant. The hope of this blogger is that this series of blogposts have proven helpful for readers and researchers inquiring or concerned about Biblical inerrancy. To God be the glory!
The Truthfulness of Scripture – by Dr. Wayne Grudem
1. God Cannot Lie or Speak Falsely. “The essence of the authority of Scripture is its ability to compel us to believe and to obey it and to make such belief and obedience equivalent to believing and obeying God himself. Because this is so, it is needful to consider the truthfulness of Scripture, since to believe all the words of Scripture implies confidence in the complete truthfulness of the Scripture that we believe. Although this issue will be dealt with more fully when we consider the inerrancy of Scripture (see chapter 5), a brief treatment is given here.
This would also include even the influence of a secretary (technically called an amanuensis) on the wording of a book: see the greeting from Tertius in Rom. 16:22. I am not denying that good speaking ability or creativity or telling of personal experiences have a place in preaching, for good preaching will include all of these (see Prov. 16:21, 23). I am saying that the power to change lives must come from the Word itself, and it will be evident to the hearers when a preacher really believes this. Since the biblical writers repeatedly affirm that the words of the Bible, though human, are God’s own words, it is appropriate to look at biblical texts that talk about the character of God’s words and to apply these to the character of the words of Scripture. Specifically, there are a number of biblical passages that talk about the truthfulness of God’s speech. Titus 1:2 speaks of “God, who never lies,” or (more literally translated), “the unlying God.” Because God is a God who cannot speak a “lie,” his words can always be trusted. Since all of Scripture is spoken by God, all of Scripture must be “unlying,” just as God himself is: there can be no untruthfulness in Scripture.
Hebrews 6:18 mentions two unchangeable things (God’s oath and his promise) “in which it is impossible for God to lie (author’s translation).” Here the author says not merely that God does not lie, but that it is not possible for him to lie. Although the immediate reference is only to oaths and promises, if it is impossible for God to lie in these utterances, then certainly it is impossible for him ever to lie (for Jesus harshly rebukes those who tell the truth only when under oath: Matt. 5:33–37; 23:16–22). Similarly, David says to God, “You are God, and your words are true” (2 Sam. 7:28).
2. Therefore All the Words in Scripture Are Completely True and WithoutError in Any Part. Since the words of the Bible are God’s words, and since God cannot lie or speak falsely, it is correct to conclude that there is no untruthfulness or error in any part of the words of Scripture. We find this affirmed several places in the Bible. “The words of the LORD are words that are pure silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6, author’s translation). Here the psalmist uses vivid imagery to speak of the undiluted purity of God’s words: there is no imperfection in them. Also in Proverbs 30:5, we read, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” It is not just some of the words of Scripture that are true, but every word. In fact, God’s Word is fixed in heaven for all eternity: “For ever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Ps. 119:89). Jesus can speak of the eternal nature of his own words: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). God’s speech is placed in marked contrast to all human speech, for “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should repent” (Num. 23:19). These verses affirm explicitly what was implicit in the requirement that we believe all of the words of Scripture, namely, that there is no untruthfulness or falsehood affirmed in any of the statements of the Bible.
3. God’s Words Are the Ultimate Standard of Truth. In John 17 Jesus prays to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). This verse is interesting because Jesus does not use the adjectives ἀληθινός (G240) or ἀληθής (G239, “true”), which we might have expected, to say, “Your word is true.” Rather, he uses a noun, ἀλήθεια (G237, “truth”), to say that God’s Word is not simply “true,” but it is truth itself.
The difference is significant, for this statement encourages us to think of the Bible not simply as being “true” in the sense that it conforms to some higher standard of truth, but rather to think of the Bible as being itself the final standard of truth. The 13 13. Some scholars object that it is “too simplistic” to argue as follows: “The Bible is God’s words. God never lies. Therefore the Bible never lies.” Yet it is precisely that kind of argument that Paul uses in Titus 1:2. He refers to the promises of eternal life made “ages ago” in Scripture and says the promises were made by God “who never lies.” He thus calls on the truthfulness of God’s own speech to prove the truthfulness of the words of Scripture. A “simple” argument this may be, but it is scriptural, and it is true. We should therefore not hesitate to accept it and use it.
The Bible is God’s Word, and God’s Word is the ultimate definition of what is true and what is not true: God’s Word is itself truth. Thus we are to think of the Bible as the ultimate standard of truth, the reference point by which every other claim to truthfulness is to be measured. Those assertions that conform with Scripture are “true” while those that do not conform with Scripture are not true. What then is truth? Truth is what God says, and we have what God says (accurately but not exhaustively) in the Bible.
4. Might Some New Fact Ever Contradict the Bible? Will any new scientific or historical fact ever be discovered that will contradict the Bible? Here we can say with confidence that this will never happen—it is in fact impossible. If any supposed “fact” is ever discovered that is said to contradict Scripture, then (if we have understood Scripture rightly) that “fact” must be false, because God, the author of Scripture, knows all true facts (past, present, and future). No fact will ever turn up that God did not know about ages ago and take into account when he caused Scripture to be written. Every true fact is something that God has known already from all eternity and is something that therefore cannot contradict God’s speech in Scripture.”
Similarly, the Bible does not teach that the sun goes around the earth, for it only uses descriptions of phenomena as we see them from our vantage point and does not purport to be describing the workings of the universe from some arbitrary “fixed” point somewhere out in space. Yet until the study of astronomy advanced enough to demonstrate the rotation of the earth on its axis, people assumed that the Bible taught that the sun goes around the earth. Then the study of scientific data prompted a reexamination of the appropriate biblical texts. Thus, whenever confronted with some “fact” that is said to contradict Scripture, we must not only examine the data adduced to demonstrate the fact in question; we must also reexamine the appropriate biblical texts to see if the Bible really teaches what we thought it to teach.
We should never fear but always welcome any new facts that may be discovered in any legitimate area of human research or study. For example, discoveries by archaeologists working in Syria have brought to light the Ebla Tablets. These extensive written records from the period around 2000 B.C. will eventually throw great light on our understanding of the world of the patriarchs and the events connected with the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Should Christians entertain any lingering apprehension that the publication of such data will prove some fact in Genesis to be incorrect? Certainly not! We should eagerly anticipate the publication of all such data with the absolute confidence that if it is correctly understood it will all be consistent with Scripture and will all confirm the accuracy of Scripture. No true fact will ever contradict the words of the God who knows all facts and who never lies.”