Since the days of Eden, when the ancient serpent preyed upon our first parents, God’s Word has been called into question. The goodness that was the garden of God fell headfirst into sin and disorder when that crafty creature uttered four fatal words: “Did God actually say?” (Gen. 3:1). To this day, the legacy of that fateful encounter at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lives on as God’s Word continues to be called into question.
Of course, we, as evangelical Christians, affirm the Bible as God’s Word. That is, we affirm that the 66 books of the Old and New Testament were written by men divinely inspired and constitute God’s revelation of Himself to man.[i] Furthermore, we affirm, in direct opposition to the serpent of old, that the Word of God is true, without any mixture of error.[ii] But what exactly do we mean by this?
Simply put, we believe that God, who is Himself Truth, speaks truth only.[iii] Thus, we believe that Scripture, being wholly and verbally God-given, is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.[iv] In short, the Bible always tells the truth. You can trust your Bible. When the Bible speaks, God speaks.[v] The word we use to describe this reality is inerrancy. The Bible is inerrant, or without any mixture of error. Inerrancy is a word you ought to know.
Relevance to Southern Baptists
If you are a fellow Southern Baptist reading this blog post, the last 50 or more years of our convention’s history have been marked by vigorous debate over this doctrine of biblical inerrancy. The advent of theological liberalism in 19th Century Germany made its way across the ocean into the American seminary classroom and eventually into the Southern Baptist pulpit, reviving the legacy of the serpent’s deception in Eden with tragic proportions. Seminaries were graduating soon-to-be pastors who doubted the truthfulness of the Bible, calling into question everything from the veracity of creation to Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Rank unbelief was left in its wake.
By God’s grace, the heart of the Southern Baptist Convention—the members of its more than 45,000 local churches—saw through the smokescreen of theological liberalism and over a period of several decades wrought a resurgence of conservative Christianity in its seminaries and pulpits, centered upon biblical inerrancy. This time period also witnessed the publication of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy—a definitive evangelical defense of the doctrine and worth your read.[vi]
Why it Matters
The issue of inerrancy is central to what it means to truly be an evangelical Christian. The Evangelical Theological Society’s requirement that all of its members affirm the inerrancy of the Scriptures is a clear testament to this reality. Inerrancy, then, is far more than a mere theological footnote. Rather, it reflects the heart of a person who rightly handles the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). When you read your Bible, you ought to believe it comprises the very words of God, written by divinely inspired men. To abandon biblical inerrancy is to, in truth, abandon the root of biblical authority, ultimately rendering the Bible no more authoritative than Shakespeare.
At Hickory Grove Baptist Church, we heartily affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. Our ministry is built upon the reality that God’s Word can be totally trusted. That is why our pastor is preaching straight out of the Bible, book by book. And next Sunday, as you sit under the preaching of the Word, I challenge you to reflect upon the blessing of an inerrant Bible as our Pastor begins the message with his familiar opening refrain from Isaiah 40:8 which highlights this truth: “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.”
Kyler Smith is the Children’s Pastor at Hickory Grove Baptist Church, North Campus in Charlotte, N.C. Kyler has a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from John Brown University and is currently pursuing his Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
[i] “Article I: Scripture,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000
[ii] “Article I: Scripture,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000
[iii] “Article I: Summary Statement, Section 1,” The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, 1978
[iv] “Article I: Summary Statement, Section 4,” The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, 1978.
[v] Albert Mohler, “When the Bible Speaks, God Speaks: The Classic Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy,” Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 29.
[vi] The full text of this document can be accessed here: http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html