The Word of God and the People of God

In Bible College and seminary I was required to read books and articles from authors who questioned the authority and integrity of the Bible. I was not surprised by their position. After all, they didn’t claim to be Christians. I expected them to be hostile toward God and the Bible. In recent years, however, something troubling has happened. Not only are unbelievers questioning the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of Scripture, but nowadays even professing Christians are doing so.

Some argue that the Bible isn’t inerrant in all that it affirms. Rather, they insist that it’s only trustworthy with respect to faith and morals. But we have to ask: Does the Bible itself encourage such an outlook? Would the prophets and apostles agree with this? Does the Bible encourage readers to restrict the areas in which it is reliable and truthful? Theologian Wayne Grudem notes, “[N]owhere in the Old Testament or in the New Testament does any writer give any hint of a tendency to distrust or consider slightly unreliable any other part of Scripture.”[1]

People often say that the reason they can’t believe the Bible is without error is because it was written by human authors. The underlying assumption is that the involvement of humanity necessarily entails error. Aristotle is the one who said “To err is human,” not the Bible. To assume that the involvement of human beings necessarily entails error is to harbor an independent presupposition that is not biblical.[2] A biblical worldview is supernatural: “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

Additionally, it’s not uncommon in our day to hear people say things like, “I’m committed to Jesus, not the Bible.” I confess I’m always befuddled when I hear people say things like this. After all, only the Bible gives us access to what Jesus said, and, as Kevin DeYoung writes, “[T]here’s no reason to treat Jesus’s words . . . as more authoritative than the rest of the Bible. He affirmed the abiding authority of the Old Testament (Matt. 5:17-18).”[3] At the end of the day, if we get to decide what we think Jesus did or did not say, who is really in charge here? As the little ditty goes, “If I only submit when I agree, then the God to whom I submit is me.”

The reason I would be motivated to question the authority of God’s Word is when it conflicts with my own personal likes and dislikes. But as E. J. Young once said, “If God is the creator, and man the creature, there is no way in which man can set himself up as a judge of what God has revealed.”[4]

I may not understand everything I read in the Bible. I can’t explain why God does everything that he does. But I trust that he is a good God. Would you pray the following prayer with me?

“Lord, if my heart doesn’t learn to trust your Word when it tells me things I don’t want to hear, then my heart won’t accept it when it tells me things I desperately do want to hear—about your love and forgiveness. Teach me to trust your Word.”[5]

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[1] Wayne A. Grudem, “Scripture’s Self-Attestation and the Problem of Formulating a Doctrine of Scripture,” in Scripture and Truth, eds. D. A. Carson and John Woodbridge (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 19-59. See esp. 58-59.

[2] This point has been articulated recently by D. A. Carson, “The Many Facets of the Current Discussion,” in The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016), 3-40. See esp. 21.

[3] Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 75.

[4] E. J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth: Some Thoughts on the Biblical Doctrine of Inspiration (1963; Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), 189.

[5] Tim Keller and Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms (NY: Viking, 2015), 58.

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