God’s Word is true. Jesus concurred in His prayer to God the Father when He said: “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). God’s revelation is true. But just how true is it? Is it fully inerrant even when it comes to what it says about matters of science and history? Or is it just free from error when it comes to what it says about salvation?
What else comes from Chicago besides hotdogs and deep-dish pizza?
Back in 1978 in the Windy City, 268 evangelical scholars signed on the line to affirm their belief in the doctrine of inerrancy. Inerrancy means the Bible is free from error (597). And this document they signed is called the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” I’ll spare you the 5,000 words of the statement and just give you their summary in five short points.
First: God, who only speaks truth, has inspired Scripture to reveal Christ to sinners.
Second: The Bible, “written by men, prepared and superintended by the Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches.
Third: The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine author, illumines readers and authenticates Scripture.
Fourth: The Bible is without error in all its teaching (170–171). Scripture is God-breathed. The very words and all the words are from God. That’s the doctrine of inspiration.
But inerrancy says that God’s Word is completely true and free from error. Therefore, the Bible is completely true and free from error because it’s God’s Word (92). Scripture, itself, says that it’s true. King David prayed as such in 2 Sam. 7:28.
O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true…
God’s Word is true. Jesus concurred in His prayer to God the Father when He said: “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). God’s revelation is true. But just how true is it? Is it fully inerrant even when it comes to what it says about matters of science and history? Or is it just free from error when it comes to what it says about salvation? Or is the truth of the Bible a nonissue so long as it accomplishes its purpose of bringing people into fellowship with Christ?
And for an initial answer, we turn to our featured theologian: Augustine. The life of this ancient theologian from North Africa spanned the fourth and fifth centuries. And his influence has been huge. He started out as a teacher of rhetoric, but after a lengthy spiritual pilgrimage, became a Christian and eventually, a bishop known for his writings: Confessions, The City of God, and On the Trinity (19–20). Here’s kind of a long quote from him, stating this doctrine of inerrancy:
I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error.
Augustine is saying that only those books that are Scripture—the Word of God—are free from error. And he goes on to say: