Why I Am “Comfortable”with Inerrancy -- By: Roger R. Nicole
RAR 11:3 (Summer 2002) p. 112
Why I Am “Comfortable”with Inerrancy
From the very start of the Evangelical Theological Society, the inerrancy of Scripture was asserted in our confession of faith. “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs.” This concept and this wording have been declared objectionable by many, some of whom have been advocates of the supreme authority of Scripture. Dr. John Stott, for instance, has written “The word inerrancy makes me uncomfortable” [emphasis mine].1 Earlier, Dr. Ramsey Michaels, while not denying inerrancy, indicated a preference for the language of “verbal inspiration.”2
The following objections have been leveled against that term.
1) Inerrancy, it is claimed, is not asserted in the ancient creeds nor in the confessions of faith of the Reformation.
Yet the Formula of Concord asserts that the Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all dogmas and all doctrines ought to be esteemed and judged.”3
The First Helvetic Confession calls the “Canonical Scripture.. .the most perfect and ancient teaching.. . .” The Second Helvetic Confession calls it “the true Word of God.. .by which he spoke and speaks.”
RAR 11:3 (Summer 2002) p. 113
The French Confession states “The Word contained in these books has proceeded from God.”
The Belgic Confession calls it “the infallible rule.”
The Westminster Confession speaks of “infallible truth and divine authority” of Scripture (I, V) and states, “By faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therein” (XIV, II).
These statements, when carefully analyzed, affirm divine authorship and imply resulting inerrancy.
2) The members of the Westminster Assembly, allegedly, did not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.
This was the claim of Dr. Charles A. Briggs of Union Theological Seminary in New York, and he adduced eight quotations to substantiate it.4 B. B. Warfield took up the gauntlet in his extensive article on “The Doctrine of Inspiration in the Westminster Divines.”5 Warfield showed Briggs’ quotations related not to the original form of Scripture but to the copies and translations thereof, ...
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