The Co-Inherence of Authority, Inerrancy and Trustworthiness

[This accompanies this post] Wait a second, you may be thinking, you are fallaciously connecting ideas that are not necessarily connected: is authority really so connected to inerrancy? Yet, are they not? Let us ask ourselves, what do we mean when we call Scripture ‘authoritative’? We are affirming, with all of the writers of Scripture that the Bible carries God’s authority. This is a claim easy to prove: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture was breathed out by God, that is, it is His words. Paul here refers to the Old Testament with which Timothy was raised, but Peter goes on to lump Paul’s letters into this same category—inspired Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Peter also said, previously, that no prophecy found in Scripture (prophecy would cover the whole of Scripture—not just predictive texts) is of the prophets own imagination, but of God (2 Peter 1:20-21). The author of Hebrews, furthermore, writes that “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:1-2). Some of the Old Testament records the very words of God—and when the prophets speak it is difficult to distinguish between their speech and God’s, so close is the connection—but all the Biblical texts, even the Psalms, are repeatedly said to be spoken by God, with David or the Prophets as His means of speaking: “saying through David so long afterward… ‘Today, if you hear his voice’….8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day” (Heb. 4:7-8); “God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:21, cf. Luke 1:70) (cf. Mark 12:36, Acts 1:16, Acts 4:25, Acts 28:25). So when we say “the Scriptures are authoritative,” we mean “The Scriptures, as the very words of God, bear His authority.”  The writers of Scripture are analogous—and this is a very near analogy—to the letter bears or heralds of a great king. When they come to the king’s subjects with a message—whether they paraphrase his words or read his words exactly—they come with his authority: to reject their words is to reject his; to spurn them is to spurn him. To do so is to incur the wrath of the king (cf. Matt. 21:33-22:14). To reject the prophets of God and their message is to reject God Himself (cf. Acts 8:51). Now, God has ultimate authority: He is the creator and has unquestionable rights and authority (cf. Job 38-41; Rom. 9:15, 20-21), God is also our covenant Lord—He has the authority to give commands, expect obedience, and pour out wrath upon the disobedient (see everywhere in Scripture). Scripture, then, as God’s very words, carries this same authority. This identity between God and His words is so close that David, in Psalm 56, talks repeatedly about praising God’s word (56:4, 10-11). Therefore, if Scripture is God’s word, it is trustworthy and inerrant both because God is trustworthy and inerrant (see Psalm 56) AND because it is absolutely authoritative. That is, if Scripture is absolutely authoritative—bearing God’s own authority—then it can never been in error, for there is no authority qualified to tell us it is wrong. Think about it: if you wanted to prove God wrong, where would you go? Science? He created the world and all that is in it; He would tell you that you are wrong, maybe tell you the reason you are wrong—maybe not—and command you to submit (see Job 38-41). Experience? He would tell you that you cannot rightly interpret your experience unless you know yourself perfectly—you cannot evaluate what is actually going on in the deepest recess of your heart and mind, what biases are at play—yet He who is completely omniscient knows the depths of your heart, mind, and all things: you would be wrong again. There is nothing in all creation that has the authority to tell the Creator that He is wrong. In the Christian worldview, all that exists is God and His creation, therefore God has unquestionable authority. If Scripture is God’s words, as it claims throughout, then there is nothing with the authority to show that it is wrong: it, therefore, must be inerrant—something it happily claims for itself (e.g., Isa. 40:8; Psalm 19:7, 8, 9, 119:43, 89-90, 127-128, 138-140, 151-152, 160, 163; Matt. 5:17-18, 24:35; Luke 16:17; John 10:35, 17:17).

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