The Basis For Our Belief in Inerrancy -- By: R. Laird Harris

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 09:1 (Winter 1966)
Article: The Basis For Our Belief in Inerrancy
Author: R. Laird Harris


The Basis For Our Belief in Inerrancy

R. Laird Harris

Our subject is simply, “Why I believe the Bible.” And of course there are many reasons. We use the word “believe,” however, not in a general sense. Generally speaking we may believe the reports of the war in Viet Nam without believing them in detail. When we say we believe it we mean we believe it to be true, and true throughout. In short, we believe it to be without error.

It is obvious that this has been the historic Protestant position. The Reformation creeds do not use the terminology of today, yet candid examination has convinced most people that they express what we call Bible inerrancy. The Roman Council of Trent is as explicit on this subject as any Protestant could wish. And the Nicene Fathers who speak on the subject make express statements to the effect that the Scriptures show no real contradiction, but are to be believed whole and entire. Earlier writings are scanty, but Irenaeus can be quoted as saying that “the Scriptures are indeed perfect since they were spoken by the Word of God and his Spirit” (Against Heresies II, 28, 2). And Justin Martyr near the middle of the second century says “I am entirely convinced that no Scripture contradicts another” (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 65). Such statements are found also in those scanty writings which remain of Polycarp, Ignatius, and Clement—men who actually were contemporaneous with the apostles.

This doctrine of the inerrancy of Scriptures is pervasive, ancient and basic. Why has it been held so universally in all ages? Whatever may be the bases for this belief, they must be strong and powerfully persuasive to Christian hearts and minds.

It is not of small moment that the Bible has also often been disbelieved. Indeed it has almost always been disbelieved by those outside of orthodox Christian faith. The early days had a Cerinthus. The Reformers were troubled by the Socinians. The age of rationalism produced a welter of sceptics. Our own days are more than usually afflicted in that the seats of unbelief are firmly emplaced within the visible church and in particular in the halls of theological learning. None today are

so sceptical as theologians. It is left to them to proclaim not only the mythology of the Bible but the very death of God.

We may learn however from church history that those who are earnest believers in Jesus Christ as Lord are by and large believers also in the Bible. There have been and are exceptions. Some have tried to hold on to the teachings of Jesus while discounting the inerrancy of the Bible. But in general it does not work. The students of such men either go on to denial of Christ as...

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