Notes On The Inerrancy Of Scripture -- By: Robert Preus

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 08:4 (Fall 1965)
Article: Notes On The Inerrancy Of Scripture
Author: Robert Preus

Notes On The Inerrancy Of Scripture

Robert Preus

This study is offered as an approach to the problem of the inerrancy of Scripture as it concerns evangelical Protestantism today. The attempt is to present a position which agrees with Scripture’s testimony concerning itself and with the historic position of the Christian Church. At the same time the attempt is made to be timely, and to take into account contemporary issues raised by modern Biblical theology.

Here we shall try to delineate and clarify what is meant by the inerrancy of Scripture, what is the basis of this dogma and what are its implications. It is not our purpose to become involved in the technicalities which have often obscured the doctrine or to traverse the labyrinth of intricate discussion which has not infrequently belabored studies of this basic theological truth.

Indeed, a brief treatment such as we are about to give cannot possibly solve the many hermeneutical and isagogical problems which touch upon the inerrancy of Scripture. Yet hermeneutical and isagogical concerns cannot be avoided in a study of this nature. Therefore we have endeavored to., lay down general principles concerning these matters which will comport with the inerrancy and sole authority of Scripture.


In calling the Sacred Scriptures inerrant we recognize in them (A), as words taught by the Holy Spirit (B), that quality which makes them overwhelmingly (C) reliable witnesses (D-E) to the words and deeds of the God who has in His inspired spokesmen and in His incarnate Son disclosed Himself to men for their salvation (F).1

Note: This definition is very general, seeking as it does to fit all the Biblical data (e. g., the bold language of prophecy and of adoration, the promises concerning the world to come for which human, experience offers only imperfect and insufficient analogies, the expressive and indispensable anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms used of God, the symbolic use of numbers and other referents in books like Daniel and Revelation, etc.). The definition also agrees, however, with what the Church catholic has believed and confessed through her entire history. We offer a few typical examples to bring out this fact.

Augustine, Epist. 82 to Jerome: “Only to those books which are called canonical have I learned to give honor so that I believe most firmly that no author in these books made any error in writing. I read other authors not with the thought that what they haVe thought and written is true just because they have manifested holiness and learning!”

Thomas Aquinas, In Ioh. 13 lect. 1: “It is heretical to say that any falseh...

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