A Perfect Word
Christian Perspectives on Scripture
The Bible also referred to as Scripture or Holy Scripture contains the directives of God as well as His gospel message to humanity. Every Evangelical Christian affirms the doctrine of Scriptural infallibility, which is the “belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose”. The phrases “as a guide to salvation” and “will not fail to accomplish its purpose” are key terms for this doctrine because it is these two phrases that separate the doctrine of infallibility from the doctrine of inerrancy. Though neither doctrine is superior to the other, it is important to make this distinction.
The doctrine of Scriptural inerrancy according to Boyd and Eddy is the belief that “the Bible is not simply without error in matters of faith and practice… It is without error in all matters it addresses, including history and even science”.
Most Christians adhere to one of these two doctrines regarding Scripture with the majority of those Christians falling in the Infallibility camp. The ultimate purpose of Scripture is to bear witness to Christ and his atoning work and the ramifications of that event for the believer. All of Scripture works toward this end.
My Denomination's Perspective on Scripture
The Fellowship of Christian Assemblies holds to the Infallibilist view of Scripture. “The Bible is the only inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God,” according to the official FCA website. There is room for differing opinions within the FCA, however. This doctrine merely represents the majority of belief as it relates to Scripture in the FCA and it is meant to act as home-base for doctrinal belief within the FCA’s network of churches.
The Bible itself testifies to its infallibility when the Apostle Paul writes that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV).
All of Scripture has a divine purpose that is sanctioned by God and that same Scripture also holds utility for the Christian, both individually and corporately. To suggest anything more, the infallibilist holds, would be outside of the scope of Scripture.
My Personal Perspective on Scripture
As for my personal faith, I adhere to the inerrantist view of Scripture. I believe that the Bible is without error in all matters that it addresses mainly on a philosophical account. I also strongly believe that there is much theological and historical evidence to base the doctrine of inerrancy on.
For the sake of space, however, I will detail my conviction using a simple argument.
Philosophically, what good is it to say that God is perfect (without error) if that doesn’t extend to the things that He says and does? Is God’s perfection merely an abstract theological concept or does His perfection extend beyond theory and into His motives and actions? The latter is the most logical answer.
For example, if I state that a man has a strong moral character, which is a defining characteristic of this man, and yet that doesn’t play out in his day-to-day actions, then how can this man truly have a strong moral character? If this man’s strong moral character doesn’t extend to the things that he says and does, then it is utterly useless to describe this man as having a strong moral character.
Thus, the logic goes:
- God is perfect (without error)
- God’s perfection extends to His actions and words
- The Bible is a collection of God’s words
- Therefore, the Bible is also perfect
Scripture and Relationship
My belief in Scriptural inerrancy has allowed me to trust fully and completely in the words of God revealed in Scripture (I am not suggesting that belief in this doctrine is necessary for trust in God, however). Because I have been able to fully and completely trust in God, I have been able to go to Scripture for many reasons.
Some of those reasons include leadership development, spiritual encouragement, life advice, and many more. The main reason that I go to Scripture though is to develop my relationship with God.
Scripture is a tool that is used to strengthen my relationship with God. If all of Scripture points toward Christ, and Christ is the exact representation of God the Father (see Heb. 1:3), then Scripture is the primary source that I go to meet with Christ and understand what He is like.
Roger Olson summarizes Scripture’s supreme standing when he states, “Spirit-inspired and Spirit-illumined Scripture is the ultimate source and norm for theological reflection and construction…”. Scripture is the place where I go to commune with God, learn about God, and think with God.
I believe that it is the most trustworthy source available to the Christian.