David Lose: It's in there!

In David Lose's recent post about inerrancy and literal reading of the Bible, he makes the following as the first of four arguments: "Nowhere does the Bible claim to be inerrant." This is a frustrating argument because it is true on one level but absolutely false on another. Yes, the Bible claims nowhere that it is inerrant. There is no Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek word for that concept anywhere to be found. There is no direct statement about the books of Scripture to that effect, that they are without error in the original autographs. So the statement is true in that sense. Lose's implication then is that if there is no direct biblical witness to this idea, then inerrantists are already down one point. Let's play this out for a little bit, though. Nowhere does the word "trinity" occur in the Bible, yet this is a doctrine of orthodox Christianity about the nature of God which has been held for millennia. Nowhere does the phrase "substitutionary atonement" occur, but this is widely regarded as an accurate phrase to describe the work of Christ's death on the cross. Nowhere is the book of James referred to as "scripture," but its place in the canon is rarely doubted, Luther's protestations notwithstanding. My point is that to claim that inerrancy is not true because the Bible does not speak of it does not immediately make it incorrect.

As I mentioned before, inerrancy is a corollary of inspiration, that is, it is a logical deduction from the affirmations made in the prior doctrine of inspiration. Inspiration claims that the Bible finds its entire source and origin, its complete and ultimate expression in God, as 2 Timothy 3:16 claims. Inerrancy then is less a statement about the Bible and more a statement about the nature of God who inspired the Bible. If God speaks truthfully, as the Bible does in fact claim (see Titus 1:2 for one example), then the content of what God spoke is also truthful and correct. So even if inerrancy is a recent doctrine, even if it is not expressed directly as such within the biblical text, it has validity as a doctrine developed from our understanding of the nature of God and the scripture he inspired. We can thus affirm it as a deduction from what scripture does in fact teach directly.