On Biblical Inerrancy: What is John MacArthur saying?

View More: http://lukasandsuzy.pass.us/shepconf2014Last week a colleague and I were discussing the matter of biblical inerrancy.  I offered my position.

And in an effort to revisit the matter, I was reminded of John MacArthur’s conference on Biblical Inerrancy, held this past March.  So I decided to listen to the likes of John MacArthur, RC Sproul, Kevin DeYoung, Carl Trueman, Al Mohler, etc., on the matter (for more on this view of inerrancy, you may consult Inerrant Word).

Let’s just say that I was highly disappointed.  I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I was also reminded that the doctrine of inerrancy does not naturally arise from Scripture, but must first be put there by its proponent.

I heard things like, “To question inerrancy is to question the authority of Scripture.”

“You cannot be an expositor of Scripture if you have a weak view of Scripture.  There is no such thing.”

One of the speakers even used Matthew 5:17ff to prove his version of inerrancy.

And if you’re wondering if I hold to inerrancy, I do.  Though I prefer the term “biblical absolutism” to describe what I believe.  It’s the position of John Frame.

“Inerrancy, therefore, means that the Bible is true, not that it is maximally precise. To the extent that precision is necessary for truth, the Bible is sufficiently precise. But it does not always have the amount of precision that some readers demand of it. It has a level of precision sufficient for its own purposes, not for the purposes for which some readers might employ it…

“When we say that the Bible is inerrant, we mean that the Bible makes good on its claims.”

I’ve found that this definition of John Frame accounts very well for the world of the biblical writers and their approach to history, though under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

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This entry was posted in Al Mohler, Inerrancy, John Frame, John MacArthur, Kevin DeYoung, RC Sproul and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to On Biblical Inerrancy: What is John MacArthur saying?

  1. Colin says:

    That looks like a good definition. A while ago I read J Packer’s “Engaging the Written Word of God”. He devotes some of Chapter 1 to inerrancy, and how crucial it is. He too suggests that Scripture may not always explicitly answer questions we put to it today. Also that it means exactly what it was intended to mean for those who received it when the inspired author wrote it down .

    A very worthy book by the way

  2. Craig Benno says:

    When discussing this issue, I like to throw a spanner into the works, regarding the temptation of Jesus. When the devil says to him, bow down to me, and I will give you all those cities, because they were given to me… is he telling the truth? Was he really given those cities?

  3. Jason says:

    What inerrancy boils down to for Evangelicals, the majority I know anyway, is “does the Bible get something wrong factually“? This is what Evangelicals fear and why they are always on the warpath to defend the concept–if God can’t see that the Scriptures were recorded without error, what does that say about God?

  4. nwroadrat says:

    There’s no doctrine of inerrancy in the ancient Church. It only came about because manuscript issues, science and archeology created “questions.” Statements like “To question inerrancy is to question the authority of Scripture,” etc. are simply modern tactics of manipulation and sometimes go so far as intimidation; keep people in line. Doing this takes the Bible and sets up standards ancient documents cannot meet in our modern age. It looks like nobody’s listening to John Frame.

  5. The “classic” inerrancy fallacy comes out of the dueling modernist fight between the liberal children of the 19th C higher criticism and the fundamentalists. Both are shaped by Enlightenment presuppositions. The task is for us to receive the Bible as it has been handed down to us, out of a strange world where God is present, the self is subsumed by the broader identities of community, and people hear God speak in the existential reality of their lives.

  6. Jon Hughes says:

    Martin Luther King didn’t believe in an inerrant Bible. Yet, taking the Bible as his inspiration, he went out and changed the world. Maybe we’ll all grow up and do the same one day.

  7. TC Robinson says:

    Guys, thanks for the interaction. Just a reminder: as we all know, in any meaningful exchange, we must first define our terms accurately. We must extend this to inerrancy. I notice Jason and Kyle are attempting to point us in that direction. Let’s also not forget that there’s a history behind this debate. Now inerrancy is appealed to for any and every doctrinal matter. Can we not come to a consensus as to what we really mean?

    Jon, I like how your mind works. 😉

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