Biblical Inerrancy: Only In Matters Of Salvation?

2 Peter 1:21 “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

I have been emphasizing lately that we can trace most of the problems going on in the evangelical church today, including my denomination, to the lessening of the authority of Holy Scripture, and more emphasis on subjective reasoning and/or mystical means of “experiencing” God.

There is the tendency of man to decide what is or is not believable or essential in scripture; and the belief that the Bible is not fully inerrant, but only CONTAINS the word of God, but is not necessarily THE word of God in its entirety.  Going clearly against the plain words of scripture, false teachers such as Rob Bell twist God’s word and re-define the meaning of hell, or whether anyone will be consigned there eternally.

To begin with, in order to avoid confusion as to what I mean regarding “biblical inerrancy”, I take the definition from The International Conference on Biblical Inerrancy):

 Inerrancy means that when all facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything that they affirm, whether that has to do with doctrine or morality, or with the social, physical, or life sciences (“The Meaning of Inerrancy,” in Inerrancy, produced by The International Conference on Biblical Inerrancy)

Having clarified the definition as I believe most inerrantists understand it, “only in matters of salvation” has bothered me a lot in the last few years. It was the phrase my former pastor said to me, as I made my case to him for the full inerrancy of God’s word. It has been thrown back at me by many emergent church proponents who argue that full inerrancy of scripture is not the position of the Church of the Nazarene, which is probably true.  Suddenly, it was like a lightbulb turning on in my head, as I said, “now I get it!”  Now I see the big loophole that you can drive a truck through.  This is one of the loopholes theistic evolutionists use to justify rejecting the literal scriptural account of creation.

Jeremiah 23:26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?”

 The Nazarene manual states this in Article 4:  “”We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scripture, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testament, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.”

There is the loophole, which I highlighted in bold.  It really reflects a view that the scriptures are not fully inerrant, and become inerrant only in matters of salvation (however that is determined).  For example, what Jesus said in John 3:16 would be inerrant because it pertains to salvation; the Genesis account of creation is not necessarily as it is written, because it “supposedly” does not pertain to salvation. (Ignore the “minor” fact that Jesus our Lord himself attested to the historicity of Adam and Eve, for instance).

So…. who, or how is it determined what parts of scripture pertain to salvation or not, and therefore what is not fact, but simply allegory, or story, that illustrates a truth, but should not be taken literally?  If anyone believe that evolution was a way that God created us, and that we should not take Genesis literally, then I submit the following to those who are smarter than me.  I would like to know which of these accounts I should believe is fact and historically true, and which ones are just allegory or parable?

Gen. 2:21-23

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

IS THIS FACT, OR ALLEGORY?

 Judges 15:16

Then Samson said:   “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps,  With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!”

IS THIS FACT, OR ALLEGORY?


Matt. 27:51-52

Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

IS THIS FACT, OR ALLEGORY?

 

Methuselah lived 967 years. IS THIS FACT, OR ALLEGORY?

 

Jonah was swallowed up by a large fish and lived for three days inside the fish.

IS THIS FACT, OR ALLEGORY?

 

Balaam’s donkey spoke to him and rebuked Balaam.

IS THIS FACT, OR ALLEGORY?

 

Paul wrote that sin came into the world through one man, Adam. IS THIS FACT, OR ALLEGORY?  OR, DID PAUL THE APOSTLE LIE?

There are many more examples I could give, and thus challenge those who do not believe in the full inerrancy of scripture: So… how do you know?

The bottom line is this: it is a dangerous thing when man dares to start judging scripture by his standards, instead of allowing scripture to judge itself, and instead of trusting what God has spoken through the prophets, through Jesus, and through the apostles.

For further study, Dr. Vic Reasoner addressed the Nazarene inerrancy issue in this short article at the Fundamental Wesleyan Society website: http://www.fwponline.cc/v16n2/v16n2reasonera.html

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11 responses to “Biblical Inerrancy: Only In Matters Of Salvation?

  1. Well not going near the science thing, there are obviously facts that don’t agree with each other. For example, Matthew and Luke both tell the story of the faithful centurion, but they differ on the details. One story has the centurion coming to meet Jesus, the other has him only sending his servants. While it doesn’t change the point of the story, it’s a significant difference, one that if both authors had actually been there, they would clearly have agreed. But the don’t. The facts are different.

  2. Ian,
    You expose your total lack of trust in God’s word as being God’s word. You see APPARENT discrepancies to you, but you fail to understand that God’s word cannot contradict itself. You like many others throw up red herrings like this to do what? Seek truth, or seek to undermine God’s word?

    Here is a perfect explanation of this “seeming contradiction”

    You’re question concerns Mtt. 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10.

    After Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount, He came down from the Galilean hillside, healed the leper, and went to Capernaum. On the way a Roman Centurion asked Him to come and heal his dying servant.

    The Holy Spirit in Matthew’s account 8:5-7 KJV writes:
    And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him. And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

    Introducing the event in Luke 7:1-3 KJV., the Holy Spirit wrote:

    Now when he [Jesus] had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
    Luke writes that Christ agreed to go with the Jewish elders, and as they drew near the Centurion’s home, the Roman sent friends to say, in touching humility, Lk. 7:6-7;
    Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.

    Skeptics leap on this claiming, “One says the Centurion went to meet Jesus, the other says he sent some Jews, and then more friends, on his behalf. The Bible contradicts itself, so cannot be trusted!”

    There are several explanations of the alleged anomaly; my view is that Luke gives a wider account, whereas Matthew highlights only the climax of the story.
    Starting with Luke’s version, the sequence of events begins; the Centurion sent a delegation of respected Jews to appeal for him, Christ agreed to go with them to heal the sick person. Near the home, possibly within sight and sound of the approaching company, the Centurion sent friends to plead with Christ not to come inside, but just say the word and the sick slave would be healed.

    We know the Roman’s faith was strong and genuine, otherwise Christ would not have given such a ringing endorsement. So why didn’t the soldier want Christ to come into his home?

    There are no contradictions in the Bible

    (from: http://www.born-again-christian.info/answers/why-different-accounts-centurion-sick-slave-and-jesus-in-matthew-and-luke.htm)

    Ian, trust in God’s word, won’t you, instead of shopping around for errors which are really not errors. No need to submit another “example of error.” God’s word is pure, as scripture itself says. It is you who is in error.

  3. Unfortunately it seems like Ian and people like him want to try to explain away the scriptures.
    The base of this all is then they are accountable to no one.
    Now many of these folks will deny this but if scripture is relative to what a person accepts or wants to believe in then they can make up their own rules since they can make it up as they go along.
    Ive seen this spirit in the past in Word Faith churches with all they proof texting they do.
    And with only part of scripture being true then how can you hold leadership accountable like you see in the Emergent church promoters The Middendorfs.
    They create their own loop holes instead of being accountable to a Holy God’s true Word cover to cover.
    Blessings
    Tim

  4. Thank you Manny for taking this head on. As a life long Nazarene but only the past five or so years been really studying the scriptures in their entirety, I have come to see the error on the Nazarene Church’s stance on the Bible. I would say that the majority of the members agree with the Bible inerrancy and don’t even know that the Nazarene Church doesn’t. Keep up the good work and you are in my prayers.

  5. I totally agree with Terry. I know a bunch of fine Nazarenes including Bev Turner,Pastor Joe and others who believe in the entire Word of God as well.
    The trouble is a seeming small minority (including those in high leadership positions) use the Nazarene manual as a excuse to promote heresy.
    They hide behind words like tradition (even though most of this junk was certainly not John Wesley’s tradition) and inerrancy so they are accountable to no one but their own whims and deception.
    Blessings
    Tim

  6. Manny,
    Ian, like so many others have been duped into believing that God’s word is no longer inerrant and infallible which in their belief contradicts itself, and therefore cannot be trusted.

    When Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness Matt. [4:1-11] Jesus quoted a passage found in Deut. [8:3} “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Jesus recognized and validated the importance of God’s word, should not we? It stands to reason if we are to live by His word we will be judged by His word. Therefore His word should not be taken lightly as some do today. Perhaps this is why there is little conviction in churches today.

    And on another occasion Jesus spoke these words found in Luke [24:44] “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” That validates pretty much all the OT. What about the NT?

    In John [14: 25-26] Jesus promises His disciples that those things that He spoke in their presence will be brought back to their rememberance by the Holy Spirit. And in John [16:13] Jesus further promises that when “He the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” And Paul confirms this to Timothy and all the world in his second letter that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”

    How much more proof does one need to see that some men are liars and God is truth?

  7. Seems to me that people like Ian are more set on finding fault in God than finding salvation through his Son.

  8. I believe the church is in a state of flux regarding the long-heralded truth known as The Inerrancy of Scripture. There are several well-known Christian teachers who are teaching doctrines that are contrary to Scripture, and they often explain their teaching by advocating an understanding of scripture as full of errors. “The Bible must be wrong”, for example, because it doesn’t make sense with my conclusions, or “The Bible is out of date”, for example, because a modern issue is beyond it’s teaching. Still, many Bible teachers, including me, still hold to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy and hold that any modern issues must still be understood in the context of full scriptureal authority.

    For generations, and without substantive resistance, the protestant church has taught that the Bible is the final authority for us. For certain, there are areas of secular life about which the Bible is specifically silent. In each of these instances the values and principles taught in scripture can be applied to discover not what God did say about these specific things, but what God would say about them, given what we know of God from the Scripture. And thus, my generation and our denomination has had very little substantive conflict over whether God’s Word is the final authority for our lives.

    But today there is reason for confusion. Various Bible translations and paraphrases of the Scripture are full of contradictions. Instead of making a thoughtful, discerning decision about which translation to read many people pick which one is easiest, most convenient, or which ever one is suggested to them. Many years ago, while working at a Christian book store in Olathe, Kansas, I was given the task of being in charge of a large section of the store reserved for the display and sales of Bibles, Bible software, commentaries and reference materials, Bible study guides, etc. One of my specific tasks was to create a catagorized binder which would give guidance to customers in selecting an apporpriate Bible or Commentary for them based upon what specific theology they adhered to, and which church they attended. All of the material was Christian material, but the lines of demarkation were well drawn. It was interesting work for me, then a masters student at Nazarene Theological Seminary, and also very eye-opening regarding the differences between our Christian churches. Yes, there is much confusion out there.

    But the differences between denominations are minor compared to the lines being drawn today. Many Christian leaders are casually lending support and lip-service to some well-known Christian teachers who have crossed some pretty formative lines in our theological understanding. Instead of simply seeing lines of theological differentiation between denominations, we are now seeing in our churches, our schools, and in our publishing companies, a re-emergence of leaders who clearly teach doctrine that is outside of orthodoxy. The foundation of our Christian understanding of the truth is crumbling. It is disturbing. Among well-known and widely heard ministers there are those who teach such wrong doctrine as 1) Jesus may not have been born of a virgin, 2) Heaven and Hell may not be real places, 3) Creation may have been a Biblical myth, 4) Satan may not be a reality, 5) the Bible may not be the final authority on matters of faith, etc. I have been shocked, then disturbed, then bewildered, and now am incensed by what I have heard and continue to hear. The problem isn’t that we are dumb, or even uninformed. The problem is that we listen blindly to the wrong teachings. The church needs to be repopulated by a generation of Christian leaders who rebuild our foundation of Christian thought finally on the authoritative Word of God.

    Let’s look back at one Christian leader who got it right. John Wesley sought out truth from several different sources, but strained all aquired truth through the authority of the Scripture. His pathway to truth is now called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Information about the Wesleyan Quadrilateral is widely available on the internet and the following information is from Wikipedia.

    The term itself was coined by 20th century American Methodist Albert C. Outler in his introduction to the 1964 collection John Wesley (ISBN 0-19-502810-4).[1][2] Upon examination of Wesley’s work, Outler theorized that Wesley used four different sources in coming to theological conclusions. The four sources are:

    •Scripture – the Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments)
    •Tradition – the two millennia history of the Christian Church
    •Reason – rational thinking and sensible interpretation
    •Experience – a Christian’s personal and communal journey in Christ. (www.wikipedia.com)
    Wesley taught that the world in which we live was a gift from God, but that man has spread the lies of the devil so widely that believers must adequately protect themselves in order to preserve holines of heart and life. Wesley, himself, who came to be known as the father of Methodism, established many very methodical practices to keep himself from impurity, from sin, from temptation, and from wrong doctrine. In his quest to keep himself and his doctrine well founded upon Scripture Wesley determined that any thought (reason) must be accountable to the Scripture, and personal experience must be accountable to Scripture, and any tradition of man, including what has been taught ot us by any human source must be accountable to the Scripture. John Wesley was not so blind as to not see the mistakes that men make in translation. Instead he was so convinced in the doctine of Biblical Authority that he founded his faith upon the belief that God would forever protect the inerrancy of His Word. I believe that John Wesley would not have formed methodism at all if he had not believed in the inerancy of Scripture.

    In our day, many denominations are straying from this teaching. The United Methodist Church, the standard bearer of the Wesleyan movement, is now forming doctrine based upon reason rather than Scripture. The scripture is clear, for example, that homosexuality is a sin, but the UMC is now ordaining openly gay ministers. Why? Because they reason that the Scripture must be wrong when homosexuality is forbidden there. Do you see how reason has become the final authority instead of Scripture? The Catholic church, who never stated aggrement with Wesley, has always believed that Church tradition is of higher authority than scripture. This was the defining reason for the reformation; that men are saved by grace alone, but the Catholics church believes that that grace must come from the church. And in recent years there have been a multitude of leaders teaching that something experienced in the throws of spiritual extacy is to be more formative to the individual even than the words of Scripture. Friends, these teachings are wrong. These avenues for pursuing the truth are good, but must always be understood through the Word of God. We have a great deceiver (Satan) among us who wishes us to have only a form of Godliness. This mere form of Godliness is attracive, and gathers large crowds, but it has no power. It is deceit.

    Every Christian has the responsibility to know the Scripture so that we may test and approve the truth.

  9. Rev. Campbell,
    What a refreshing post! I feel I do not encounter many Wesleyans now a days who actually care more about what Wesley actually believed and said then what he MIGHT be on board with these days. While I certainly do not consider myself a Wesleyan, it is good to know there are people who still understand that he did not preach that the Bible was full of errors, or that God makes mistakes, or that God doesn’t know the future,or…..

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