Definition of Inerrancy
These quotations are from E.J. Young’s excellent book, Thy Word is Truth:
“By this word [inerrant] we mean that the Scriptures possess the quality of freedom from error. They are exempt from the liability to mistake, incapable of error. In all their teachings they are in perfect accord with the truth.” (113)
“The Bible is inerrant. That Word which the Holy God gave to man is a Word that in all its statements is to be trusted. Upon its utterances we may fashion our lives and actions. He who dogmatically proclaims the presence of error in the Bible has, as a matter of fact, arrogated to himself an amount of knowledge which he does not actually possess. We today are living almost two thousand years after the latest books of Scripture were written. Can we transport ourselves back to the days of Scripture and speak with such positiveness upon those days that we can infallibly point out what is error and what is not? Those who think that they can do this, often give little evidence of understanding the nature of what they are doing. As a result of further study and also as a result of archaeology much of what formerly was regarded as error has been demonstrated to be no error at all. Adverse judgments against the Bible have had to be modified, not once or twice, but over and over again. There is no other document from antiquity which for accuracy can even begin to compare with the Bible. When therefore we meet with difficulties in the Bible let us reserve judgment. If any explanation is not at hand, let us freely acknowledge that we do not know all things, that we do not know the solution. Rather than hastily to proclaim the presence of error is it not part of wisdom to acknowledge our ignorance?” (185)
Young’s book is a must-read for anyone who’d like to understand a traditional Reformed approach to the nature and authority of Scripture. It’s a classic on the subject. By the way, E.J. Young was one of the founders of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He was a professor of Old Testament and author of a number of books including an excellent commentary set on Isaiah.
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