The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures Part II: The Bible and Protestantism -- By: Edward J. Young

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 121:483 (Jul 1964)
Article: The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures Part II: The Bible and Protestantism
Author: Edward J. Young


The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures
Part II:
The Bible and Protestantism

Edward J. Young

In recent discussions of the nature and authority of the Bible, the word infallible has played a significant part. Apparently there are some who think that the word is entirely too negative, and that it would be better to adopt a concept more positive in character. Some people simply do not like the concept and would be happy to do without it.

A recent writer, for example, states that when we examine the Scriptures we make the discovery that God does not think that we need an infallible book. This statement was made in a symposium which recently appeared in a religious magazine, and which bore the title, “Do We Need an Infallible Bible?”1 The writers in this symposium were of one mind in maintaining that we do not need an infallible Bible, and also, it may be remarked in passing, none of them gave any evidence that he understood what the words “infallible Bible” mean.

In this same periodical there appeared a few weeks later a column headed The Scriptures, in which the writer, a prominent Presbyterian clergyman, spoke of the joy that came to him as a young minister when he made the “discovery” that he was called upon to preach the Scriptures as they pointed to Christ, rather than to defend them.2 This writer is apparently willing to make a disjunction between the Scriptures and the Christ of the Scriptures, as though somehow we can have Christ with a Bible that is not trustworthy.

It is with sadness of heart that one reads statements such as these, for they reveal all too clearly that their authors do

not understand the Protestant doctrine of Scripture, or, if they do understand it, reject it. This is particularly tragic as far as Presbyterian clergymen are concerned, for the Presbyterian churches still pay lip service at least to the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and that Confession in no unmistakable terms speaks of the infallibility of the Bible.3

What then is the meaning of this word “infallible”? The word, in itself, of course, merely means “freedom from error or mistake.” The Latin word fallo, from which the English word is derived, means to trick or deceive, and hence, stressing this fundamental aspect of the word, some of the earlier theologians rightly spoke of the Scriptures as works that do not deceive. For example, Augustine remarked: “Therefore we yield to and agree to the authority of the Holy Scripture ...

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