Today I am finishing my discussion of whether or not we can accept the authority of Scripture while also rejecting the inerrancy. If you are joining the party late, here are links to Parts 1 and 2 and 3. This discussion is a response to an article written by Dr. James Ayers for Presbyterians Today magazine which addressed some Beliefs about the Bible: Yes to Authority, No to Inerrancy.
The doctrine of authority, in contrast [with the doctrine of inerrancy], focuses on the whole Bible, rather than particular texts (Ayers).
This is a false dichotomy. Ayers is suggesting that you can choose either (1) inerrancy or (2) authority, but not both. However, the Biblical example is both. The Bible is inerrant because it is God’s word and he is infallible. The Bible is authoritative because God is the sovereign Creator of the universe.
The position espoused by Ayers rejects both authority and inerrancy. He openly denounces inerrancy, so that is easy to see. And, he has placed himself (and human reason, in general) in authority over the Scripture by claiming that he can perceive the message of the Bible by rejecting and/or avoiding the supposed mistakes, errors, contradictions, and factual inaccuracies. Word-by-word and sentence-by-sentence, those who reject inerrancy tear apart the Scriptures and stitch the pieces they like back together to create their own personal version of the Bible with their own personal beliefs and doctrines. Why would you even want to read the Bible this way? I seriously doubt that Dr. Ayers would want me to read his articles and books in this manner.
With regard to topics like healing or inclusiveness or final judgment, this doctrine prompts us to ask, “What are all the verses that talk about this? How do they fit together to form one cohesive Biblical teaching? And how do I follow that teaching and live it out in my life?” (Ayers).
Certainly we should always consult all of Scripture when trying to understand what God has to say on any subject. I believe that the Bible does fit together to provide a cohesive message because it was written by an infallible God. I can place my faith in the Bible because I believe it provides a firm bedrock that is inerrant, infallible, and sufficient.
The position advocated by Dr. Ayers and those like him is shifting sand. I applaud Dr. Ayers for desiring to follow the teachings of the Bible and live it out in his life. Yet, I would ask him – why should someone else follow those teachings if they are fallible?
In closing, I would like to point you back to the Bible itself. Do not take my word on this subject. Test everything against God’s word, the Holy Bible. And, I will leave you with the following clear teaching from Scripture that all Scripture is God’s word and that is sufficient to equip us for every good work.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
If the church you are attending does not believe and teach that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible and sufficient Word of God for faith and life, I would encourage you to find a new church home this Sunday. Why would you settle for anything less?