Was the Bible’s claim to inerrancy determined by a committee?
On our television program Christ in Prophecy, we asked this question of Dr. Ron Rhodes, the founder and director of a ministry called Reasoning from the Scriptures, located in Frisco, Texas. His ministry specializes in defending Christianity against Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, the cults, world religions, and about any group that teaches false doctrine. He is a seminary professor and an excellent writer who has written more than 70 books! His latest one is titled, The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy.
Dr. Rhodes addressed some of the outlandish statements Newsweek magazine had made in a recent article that distort the Bible and treat Christianity with contempt.
The Inerrrancy Determined by a Committee Argument
“Nowhere in the Gospels, or Acts, or Epistles, or Apocalypses does the New Testament say it is the inerrant Word of God. It couldn’t. The people who authored each section had no idea they were composing the Christian Bible and they were long dead before what they wrote was voted by members of political and theological committees to be the New Testament.”
First of all, let’s recognize that it wasn’t committees who determined the Word of God. They recognized that the Bible was the Word of God. Even in New Testament times, the New Testament books were already being recognized as the Word of God. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter acknowledges that everything Paul wrote was the Word of God, using the same word for Scripture as is used of the Old Testament Scriptures, and in the Jewish context at that.
In 1 Timothy 5:18, we find a reference to Luke’s Gospel, as well as the book of Deuteronomy, and they are both collectively called Scripture.
Even during his own lifetime, people recognized Paul was writing Scripture. That’s why Paul had his works read in a number of churches because they were Scripture.
The Doctrine of Inerrancy grows out of the Doctrine of Inspiration. What does that mean, the word “inerrancy”? It means “without error.” There are no mistakes. There is no error in the original documents penned by the original writers of Scripture.
We need to be careful about this claim, because some evangelicals have tried to redefine inerrancy. They have tried to redefine it to mean that the Bible is inerrant in the sense that there are no intentional deceits. Now, wait a minute, based on that definition everything that you’ve ever written is inerrant and everything I have written in inerrant. That’s not what the Bible means. If it’s the Word of God, it has to be inerrant. How could God make an error?
That really gets back to the Doctrine of Inspiration, because the word “inspired” doesn’t mean inspiring to read like Shakespeare. It means that the Scriptures are breathed out by God. God is the source of the Scriptures.
The great verse to go to is 2 Peter 1:21 which says that the biblical writers were brought along by the Holy Spirit, or driven along. It is a very strong word in the original Greek. The only other place where that word occurs is in Acts 27 where Paul is on that big ship and he is there with a bunch of other men and this big storm comes up. The wind is just really picking up and the sailors are trying to control where the ship is going, but they couldn’t do it because the wind was driving them along. That is the same word used of the Holy Spirit who was driving the Biblical authors to write what they wrote. So, yes, humans were involved, but the Holy Spirit drove them along.
Here is what I’m building up to — God does not err. The Scriptures come from God. Therefore, the Scriptures do not err.
All throughout the Scriptures, we do see indications for inerrancy, that Scripture cannot be broke. For example, what did Jesus continually tell the Pharisees and the Sadducees about their traditions? He said you guys are constantly going back to your tradition and ignoring the Word of God, but it is the Word of God that is authoritative.
Where did Jesus win His confrontation with the Devil (Matthew 4:1-11)? How did He defeat the Devil? It was Scripture.
On and on we could go, but what we see in the New Testament is that the Scriptures speak with the voice of God and with the authority of God. The Scriptures have the authority of God because they came from God. So, these guys who talk about contradictions and so forth, they haven’t really studied the issue.
I want to tell you something. The Bible may have apparent contradictions, especially in the four Gospels. They may have apparent contradictions, but not genuine contradictions. It is truer to say that the Gospels have differences. But, listen to me on this, if all four Gospels were identical, what would the critics say? They’d then claim that one guy wrote them all or were copying from each other. It’s the same as if you’ve got five witnesses saying exactly the same thing in the courtroom. They are going to claim “Collusion! Collusion! Collusion! Collusion!” And so, I’m glad that we’ve got four Gospels that have different details.
Still, the Gospels don’t contradict. I used to have a friend who was a policeman, and he would write up reports at the corner where there was an accident. Everybody had a different report and there were different things that were being shared. By taking all those reports together, he could develop a composite report. In the same way, we look at the different details provided in the four Gospels and then we understand that we can build a composite account of what took place in the life of Jesus.
It is real important to understand that a partial account does not mean a faulty account. It’s real important to understand that faulty human interpretations are not to be equated with God’s infallible revelation. Human interpretations can conflict, but God’s revelation does not conflict.
For example, the greatest evidence that the Bible really is the Word of God is fulfilled biblical prophecy. Prophecy had such a powerful impact on me when I was a youngster, I was teenager, and at the time I was involved in show business of all things, working in Hollywood. I was backstage working with Shirley Boone one day, this is Pat Boone’s wife, and they were talking about prophecy. I never heard of this stuff before. I never heard about the Second Coming or the Rapture or the Tribulation. Long story short, biblical prophecy proved to me that the Bible really is the Word of God, because only God knows the beginning from the end.
After all, what other book in the world contains fulfilled prophecy? Hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled.
When I looked at the Old Testament prophecies about the First Coming, that is what got my attention. When I saw all those prophecies had been fulfilled literally to the crossing of the “T” and the dotting of the “I” in the New Testament, I knew nobody could do that. Prophecies about individuals, cities, towns, nations, empires — all came true! And so, what I did was knowing these prophetic fulfillments were from God, I decided I was going to turn my life over to the Lord. I dumped Hollywood and went to seminary.
God did a radical work in my life. If God can change me, God can change anybody.