Infallibility: An Inescapable Concept

    As Christians, we believe that the Bible is infallible. We believe the Bible to be true, unerring, and authoritative in all that it teaches, because it is the Word of the One True God. Atheists and Agnostics do not believe this to be the case. They claim that since the Bible is written by humans, and since humans err, the Bible has to by necessity contain errors. They also make claims as to the scientific and historical inaccuracies, the mythological nature of the Bible, and the downright foolishness of the Bible and its ridiculous stories, leaving the Bible far from being infallible or authoritative.

    Whatever their arguments are, the inevitable conclusion of their claims is simple, “The Bible is not infallible, because I am.” This might sound strange and even somewhat silly at first, but it is no doubt true.  When the unbeliever makes an absolute claim such as, “the Bible is not the word of God” he is making himself out to be his own god, determining for himself what constitutes good and evil, right and wrong, true and false.

The unbeliever has thus become his own infallible source of truth. He has transferred infallibility from God to himself. Granted, he might appeal to another person or even a whole group of people as the basis of his authority and the reasons for not believing in God or the Bible.

As R.J. Rushdoony states in his Systematic Theology, pg 2.

The doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture can be denied, but the concept of infallibility as such cannot be logically denied.  Infallibility is an inescapable concept.  If men refuse to ascribe infallibility to Scripture, it is because the concept has been transferred to something else.  The word infallibility is not normally used in these transfers; the concept is disguised in and veiled, but, in a variety of ways, infallibility is ascribed to concepts, things, men, and institutions.

But in order for persons to speak an infallible word, they must meet the prerequisites to do so. Sadly for them, only God can do that. Let’s look briefly look at 5 foundational characteristics that one must possess in order to speak infallibly on any matter.

    Omniscience: In order to speak authoritatively on any matter, one must know absolutely all there is to know. Only God knows everything, therefore He alone has the ability to speak an infallible word. His understanding is limitless (Ps. 147:5).

    Truthfulness: God indeed does know all things, but if He were capable of lying (as Allah is) than even if He knew everything, when He spoke on a matter there would be no reason for us to believe Him because He could very well be lying. But the Triune God of Scripture cannot lie (Heb. 6:18). Thus, when God speaks He speaks as one who knows all things, and as one who can only tell the truth.

    Omnipotence: Scripture declares over and over again that God is Almighty. In order for there to be any authority anywhere, there must necessitate first some power and strength to bring about what would be commanded. God is all-powerful, and therefore has supreme power and ability to bring about whatever is consistent and compatible with the rest of His attributes.

   Sovereignty: Sovereignty goes hand in hand with Omnipotence. God not only has the power to bring about whatever He desires, He actually does it. All things that happen, happen because God is controlling all things to bring about His plan. Man can’t do this.

   Immutability:  God cannot change (Mal. 3:6). If He could, then we could not be confident that God will always be truthful. We could not be confident that God really does know all that there is to know, and He could then, hypothetically, come into new knowledg

The atheist does not believe in God. He seeks to disprove God and the Bible by use of reason.  For him, reason is his authority. He proves the reliability of his reason by his reason. This is circular reasoning, which is a logical fallacy. But the believer does the same thing. We believe the Bible to be God’s Word. How do we go about proving it? By the Bible. But, it is through the Bible that the Holy Spirit testifies to the truthfulness of God’s Word. Since God is the only one who can speak an authoritative infallible word, God is the only one who can testify to the truthfulness of the word that He has spoken. This is the role of the Spirit of God, providing an infallible testimony to the truthfulness of the Scriptures in the hearts of all believers.  As Scripture itself testifies:e that could change His perception. If God could change, then there would be something that caused Him to change, and that thing would then be more powerful than God.

11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

                                                    ~ 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 ESV

   

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2 thoughts on “Infallibility: An Inescapable Concept

  1. Certainly Scripture is inerrant in all that it affirms. But the better question is, what does Scripture actually affirm? What about the synoptic problems with Samuel-Kings and Chronicles, and with the Gospels? What about ANE cosmologies? It seems to me the issue of inerrancy/infallibility is often confused with the issue of hermeneutics. Samuel-Kings and Chronicles are not journalistic records of “what actually happened” that would meet our standards of reporting accuracy. They are theological narratives, stories that interpret events through a theological lens. What those human authors (and of course the divine Author) intended to communicate is sometimes illumined by the differences between two accounts of the same event. I discuss this at length here: http://thinkhardthinkwell.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/the-erosion-of-inerrancy/

  2. I would say that it is God’s theological interpretations of historical events, and that is what makes it infallible. I am content with God’s “reporting of the facts.” He has done so not necessarily to give us an “absolutely accurate” understanding of events as they happened in space-time history (though His retelling of the story is true to the historical event), but more so to give us a redemptive-theological/Christological understanding of history. Peter Leithart offers an interesting discussion about the role of the Holy Spirit in telling Scripture’s stories in his work Deep Exegesis. I will post something on that. Be on the look out.

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