The Inerrancy of the Bible, No. 3
This morning I want to speak on a
subject that is at the core of the thinking of Christian leaders and of knowledgeable
Christians in churches everywhere relative to the Bible itself. It’s
an issue that is coming more and more into the forefront in various circles, and which I think it is very
important that the people who form the membership of local congregations be
well-briefed on and clear in their understanding of the issues that are at stake. We are being confronted by very powerful,
prestigious, important, and influential people who have a view of the
Bible which is contrary to the view which the Bible presents about itself. If we do not have a Bible which is
trustworthy, we have exactly zero as a basis for a knowledge of what
God thinks. We don’t even know that
there is God. We don’t know what He thinks. We don’t know what He expects of us. We don’t know what the human problem is. We know exactly zero if we do not have a
Bible which is trustworthy.
There is a question today in
theological debate that you
would see if you were to read theological journals; if you were to read
publications of various kinds; or if you were to attend the classes of
seminaries and Bible colleges. And
not talking about liberal institutions.
I’m talking about the people that we would put
under the title of
evangelical. You would discover that
there is a raging debate over one primary subject which is as intense
the debate in the reformation about how a person is saved.
This issue is just as critical as was the
issue of the reformers who had to hammer out exactly how a person went
heaven in contrast to the millions of people who had been channeled
by the Roman Catholic Church through their works system of salvation. This issue today is just as important as was
the soteriological discussions of the reformation era.
The question in brief is this: Whether the Bible in its original writings,
in its original manuscripts, was supernaturally preserved from
error whatsoever. Now we recognize that
there have been introduced minor errors by copyists.
We pretty well have pinpointed the areas of
some question—all very minor indeed. Not
a single one of them affects in any way a critical doctrine—any
that matter. We have in all practical
effects, exactly what Paul put down on the parchment, and exactly what
put down on the parchment. We have an
accurate reproduction of the original texts. Nevertheless, the question
remains. In spite of copyist errors,
were the original documents supernaturally preserved from one single
error? So that you could pick up those
documents and you could read those documents with the full confidence
was being transmitted to you was what God thinks—that you had the
mind of God
without question and without any doubt about it.
If the Bible is the Word of God, and
that’s what it claims
to be, then obviously in the nature of the case it must be free from
because God cannot lie. The Bible must
be free of error in whole and in every single part.
That is the way that it’s
and in part.” If the Bible is the
of God, then it must be free from error in whole and in part because
lie. If the Bible is the inerrant Word
of God, then it bears absolute and final authority over mankind
human conduct and to the matter of eternal salvation.
So every time the discussion comes up
relative to human relationships for example.
If the Bible is the Word of God, then it is inerrant. It is without mistake and what the Bible says
about human conduct is the truth and the way it has to be.
There are no options. Therefore
when the Bible says that certain
relationships, for example in the area of sex, are right relationships
other relationships are wrong, there can be no question about that. You cannot discuss alternate lifestyles as if
these were human options. When the Bible
condemns homosexuality, there can be no discussion about whether
right or wrong. The Bible has spoken and
the issue is settled. Now that’s
only if the Bible is the Word of God. If
it’s the Word of God, that is, words that God has spoken, God
lies. God does not record what is not
true. Now the Bible sometimes records a
lie that somebody spoke, but we know that that lie is recorded
accurately. God never records anything
that is not
accurately recorded as it was spoken. He
records only accurate facts. The Bible
So therefore, if it’s the Word
of God, it is inerrant. What is says about
human conduct must be
obeyed. When the Bible speaks about the
role of government in human society, you cannot discuss the issue. What the Bible says about the role of
government is what is true. When the
Bible says that the role of government is to act as an arbitrator of
to wield the sword of authority in order to preserve peace and order,
order, and that government is restricted from any activity in economic
that is, seeking to create wealth or redistribute wealth, then there is
discussion. That is what the Bible
teaches. When the Bible says that
capitalism is the way for maximum human enjoyment of material things
personal prosperity, as it very clearly does, and that violating human
in terms of doing what you wish with what you possess, that that is
the Word of God, and there is no discussion about that.
You cannot come in and talk about socialism
as being an alternate economic system because the Bible already
that. You can only do that if you do not
believe that the Bible is the Word of God.
Once it has spoken, the issue is settled.
Now with the Word of God, the human
race is able to escape
hell. It is able to frustrate
organization of human society for his rebellion against God. That is the only way we can go to
information from the Bible, if it is the Word of God, and therefore
true. The only way we can keep Satan from
a hell on earth is if we know that the Bible is the Word of God and we
its principles of organization—the divine institutions, and so on.
Without the absolute and final
authority of the Bible, there
is no way to prevent the development of a society which is based on
evils and which is doomed to self-destruction.
This being the case, it is self-evident that Satan
is going to do
everything he can to discredit the concept that the Bible is the Word
God. If the Bible is the Word of God,
then the devil is under control. Human
beings have a way of controlling Satan.
Human beings have a way of evading the consequences
of human viewpoint
and satanic delusions. Therefore, Satan
will do everything he can to discredit the Bible as the Word of God. In order to do that he must discredit the
accuracy of the Bible. That’s the
way you can discredit that the Bible is the Word of God.
I want you to notice what I’ve
said again and again. I’ve been
repeating it to try to drum it into
our thinking. “Bible” equates
God.” They’re one and the same
thing. The Word of God is what God has
said. A God who never lies speaks the
truth. Since God is veracity, the Word He
speaks is true. Since the Bible is the
Word of God, and it contains what God has said, what God has written,
the Bible is true. Satan therefore
that the primary hindrance he has today to his plans is the Bible
inerrancy. That is the doctrine that the
bible is, in its original manuscripts, without error, and that we have
manuscripts in all practical effects.
So the thing that the devil has to do
is destroy the Bible
claim of inerrancy. If he can destroy
the Biblical doctrine of inerrancy, then the Bible is no longer the
God. That’s what he’s after. The devil is after creating the impression
that the Bible contains the Word of
God—that someplace within the writing of these Scriptures you
will find some
portions that are indeed the Word of God but other portions which are
Word of God. And he understands that God
is veracity, that God is true. Therefore
the devil knows that the way to bring the Bible’s authority down
is to say that
the Bible doesn’t always tell the truth.
Well, if the bible doesn’t always tell the
truth, you have established
your position that it is not the Word of God at certain points.
Now this is important to the devil
because you cannot bring
about the kind of society that is going to exist in the tribulation
is thoroughly evil and which worships Satan as God.
You cannot create a society like that until
you have destroyed the Bible as an absolute authority in spiritual
matters. The way you destroy the Bible
as being an absolute and final authority in spiritual matters is to
within the Bible there is errancy—that the Bible is a book of
that therefore it is not the Word of God.
The Bible and the Word of God are not then equal
terms. The doctrine of inerrancy
must of course be
destroyed primarily among Christians who hold that doctrine so that
generations of children who are born into those homes and under that
of those Christians will no longer view the Bible as the Word of God,
will no longer view the Bible therefore as absolute authority binding
actions and enabling them to judge society absolutely without apology
divine viewpoint principles of the Word of God.
Now indeed there are people in society
that will say to us a
Christians, we who are fundamentalist Christians and therefore hold to
inerrancy: This society will say,
“Just who do you think
you are, passing judgments on society?
Who do you think you are condemning the president of
the United States,
and you say, ‘That’s contrary to what the Bible teaches and
Now of course this was the issue that
brought down the wrath
of the Roman Empire upon the Christians.
The Roman Empire didn’t care a fig newton
about the fact that some
people wanted to follow Christ and be Christians. That
was perfectly alright with them. Whatever
religion you wanted in the Roman
Empire was just great. But the thing
that the Roman Empire could not forgive these Christians was that they
along and said, “We have a message from the living God who
created heaven and earth
and all mankind. We have it in absolute
form without any error. In that book we
therefore know how to judge the emperor and we know how to judge the
we know how to judge the society of the Roman Empire.” That the Christians could not be forgiven,
and for that they were persecuted—not because they were
Christians, but because
they came and said, “We have an inerrant Scripture from the
living God by which
we can judge and condemn what you do as a nation.”
Now that of course is the rub, the
point of friction,
today. People who are disoriented to the
Scriptures, to the Word of God, actually do come on the scene and they
us Christians, “Just who do you think you are anyhow, being able
to speak with
such definitiveness?” Of course they
then bring up code words to discredit us, like
“simplistic,” and “acting as if
there was no alternative.” Those are
code words. Well, of course,
means that you’re biblical. “No
alternative” means that you’re biblical.
That’s all it means so don’t be
disturbed by those words. You say,
“Yes, I’m simplistic, and yes, there
are no alternatives.” That is
the problem that has corroded western civilization and the Unites
last citadel of freedom and of western civilization.
Now interestingly enough, something
over 200 years ago,
Satan began two lines of attack by which he was going to establish his
the millennial period of human history.
That will be a rule when the people on earth will
actually worship Satan
as God. The will know that they worship
a false trinity—that a false trinity dominates over them. This will be the false trinity of Satan, the
antichrist, and the false prophet.
Worship will be given to Satan.
Satan set in motion two lines of attack, of a plan
to bring about this
condition. Interestingly enough, wonder
of wonders, you and I happen to live in the particular point in human
when these two lines of actions of the devil, begun over two hundred
have come to a climactic point and are beginning to join forces.
Number one was to divert mankind from
content of Scripture,
from thinking in terms of what the Bible said.
That was point number one—to remove mankind
from functioning upon a
mentality which is saturated with God’s divine viewpoint and to
get men instead
to act upon emotion. He wanted to bring
about a condition where emotional domination of the soul was viewed as
with God. Emotional domination of the
soul was viewed as the closest approach to God.
That has culminated in the charismatic movement
today. If you want to follow that in
detail, you may
go up to the tape room and get the series of tapes that describe the
chain of slavery which Satan forged link by link through the centuries. Those tapes outline how each error was made
until the full-blown charismatic movement came on the scene in the
1950s, and the
complete emotional domination of the soul of these people manipulated
devil while they should, “Lord, Lord,” and think they are
serving the living
God, but in fact are merely pawns of the devil.
It was very important for Satan to
create this kind of
emotional orientation as the basis of relationship to God rather than
doctrinal relationship. The result of
this has been that denominations from Catholics through Protestants
gathered together in one group. I
care if they are the most rabid liberal unbelievers who viewed Jesus
merely the illegitimate son of Mary and a Roman soldier, to those who
as indeed the God-man, to the Roman Catholics with their pagan
mystery cult religion amalgamated with biblical Christianity—the
has suddenly found a ground of biblical fellowship, and they have
one powerful movement called the charismatic movement.
They could never, a few decades ago, gotten
anywhere near one another. But now
within a matter of 25 to 30 years, they’re all in one fellowship. They’re all united enthusiastically to
another. Their beliefs have not changed,
but you’ve got a religious amalgamation, and it took something to
together, and it’s the emotionalism that is characteristic of the
movement which views that as an association with God.
It has spread, not only to those who
have been related in
the Christian context, but even to the religions of the world who are
also approaching God, and they too have the same emotional attachment
kind of a supreme divine being out there.
Critical Method of Interpreting Scripture
The other line of approach that Satan
put into motion was an
attack upon the Bible itself as being the inerrant Word of God. That has come down to us today in what we
call the historical critical method of interpreting Scripture. I’ll give you more about that in a
moment. It has been over 200 years ago
that Satan began, in the middle of the 18th century, the
movement, that he also began a second line of attack that eventuated
the historical method of interpreting the Bible which has completely
torn the innards
of the Bible out. It has completely
taken the Bible, and literally, if you wanted to illustrate this, taken
of scissors and just chopped the Bible page to page to page and tore it
shreds. Now that was important to Satan
in order to destroy the authority of the Bible.
So, one line was emotionalism as the
rallying point. The other line was human
reason as the
rallying point. These have come together
now to establish the conditions that must exist for the tribulation
world. The false prophet will have no
whatsoever uniting the religious bodies of the world once the church
removed because the charismatic movement will go right out into the
fully functioning. Its emotional frame
of reference orientation will be ready-made for the religious people of
world immediately to rally around. The
Bible itself will not be a book that has any impact because it has been
destroyed as an absolute authority because the Bible will have been
as a book written by men and therefore incorporating the error of those
men. The Bible will be destroyed and
discredited as a supernatural which God produced and preserved from all
error. That is absolutely
essential. The devil cannot establish a
tribulation world if there is a Bible that speaks with authority to
He’s doing. He has to have a book
people will look upon and say, “Well, it’s a human book. It has errors, and some of the things it says
are not true.”
Now the problem today is that most
Christians who do believe
in the Bible do not realize how widespread has become the problem of
undermining of the Scripture itself. The
cancer of errancy has deeply infected not only the liberal religious
but those that we would consider in the evangelical camp—those
who view the
Bible as the Word of God. Most
Christians do not realize how widespread this disease has become in
colleges and in seminaries that you and I would ordinarily view with
esteem. It’s in evangelical schools
where we cannot conceive that they would teach certain things which
only teach once they rejected the inerrancy of Scripture—once
they rejected the
fact that the Bible was a supernatural book without error.
It would be comparable to this: Suppose that you would suddenly find that
Dallas Seminary, which has been based upon the sacred Scriptures, and
been dedicated to the unique ministry of producing expositors of
on the basis of the English Bible, but on the basis of these original
texts—and that Dallas Seminary which has been noted for its
should suddenly begin teaching in some of its classes, and permitting
professors there to teach things such as this:
If you were to hear that some student came and said,
“Our professor told
us that there is no such thing as everlasting punishment of unbelievers. He has discovered that that is a
of what the Bible says, and that that would be a cruel, unusual,
punishment, and that God would not do that.”
And suddenly you hear that Dallas Seminary is
teaching that there is no
everlasting punishment for the unbelievers.
There is no hell.
Or suppose that you would discover
that some professor at
the seminary was teaching that there was not a real snake used in the
temptation of Adam and Eve—that that word “snake” is
simply a symbol, but there
wasn’t really a snake in the Garden of Eden.
Or suppose that you would even more so learned that
there was not an
Adam and Eve—that the whole story of Adam and Eve is not history,
but it is
poetry. It is myth. It
is putting together a concept but it has
no relationship to history. There never
an Adam. There never was an Eve. They never did have children.
Or suppose that you would hear that
some professor taught
that there was no need for propitiating the justice of God. God’s wrath did not have to be satisfied
that man could be saved. Or suppose that
they said that there was no need for expiation.
That was not what the Bible taught.
The Bible did not teach that sin had to be expiated;
that is, that sin,
of which we have been guilty, had to be paid for, by us or by someone
else. Or suppose you would hear that
Seminary, in one of its classes, was teaching that Jesus Christ was
man. He was a human being, a good man,
but He was not God, and that He never claimed to be God.
But his disciples got so excited and so
carried away with them that they later said that He was God, but Jesus
said that He was God.
What would you think if you heard that
Dallas Seminary was
teaching that? Or suppose you heard that
Dallas Seminary was teaching that the concept of the trinity was false. Jesus was human and there was no Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit—that this was just symbolic talk.
Or suppose that you heard that Dallas
Seminary was saying that Daniel was not a prophet.
Daniel did not predict governments that
controlled the whole world and predict them in their pattern in which
would appear on the scene of human history.
Daniel was not a prophet. He
not foresee these things. He did not
predict these things, but somebody later, after these things took
a book and put his name on it.
Or suppose that you heard that here at
Dallas Seminary they
were now teaching that the story of Jonah and the whale was not
either—that there never was a Jonah, there never was a large
fish, and the
incident never took place in time and place, but that it was simply a
story to teach a lesson.
Now I hope you understand that I am
not saying that Dallas
Seminary is teaching these things. Some
of you look terribly shocked already. I’m
saying what if it did? How would you
feel about it? Or if they came along and
said that Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch?
Moses did not write the first five books of the
Bible. We would have a problem because
Jesus said He
did write it. We would have a problem
with the Jonah story because Jesus said Jonah did exist.
We would have a problem with Daniel because Jesus
said that Daniel was a prophet. In spite
of those things, they would say, “No, Moses didn’t write
Now I want to tell you that all of
those things that I have
mentioned thus far, and more that I have not mentioned, are now being
evangelical Bible colleges and seminaries who have been, in the past,
exactly the same position and category is today. Dallas
Seminary continues to be sound and
firm and true to the Scriptures, through an inerrant Scripture, but
such as Dallas Seminary and Dallas Bible College have completely
from these things to the utmost unbelief of what the Bible teaches. And it all began in these schools. It all began once the concept was accepted
the bible is an errant book, that the Bible has truth in it but it also
falsehood in it, that it is a book that is both true and false, and
that it is
not a book that was supernaturally produced preserved from all human
So the basic question then comes up,
of course, where in the
world are you and I as human beings going to get the information that
to relate ourselves to God? How in the
world, if there is a hell, are we going to escape it, unless
we’ve got some information
from God who alone can tell us how that can be done?
Now the Bible claims to be the source of
information about God. So the question
that we’re talking about is, how trustworthy is the claim of the
Well, you can take three positions
toward the Bible, and you
must find yourself taking one of these three positions.
This is the issue today. Position
number one that is taken generally
in the liberal camp is that the Bible is not a trustworthy source of
information about God, and that it is a false basis for your beliefs. That’s position number one.
The Bible simply is not trustworthy at all,
period, over and out. The direction that
the Bible teaches is simply false—totally unreliable.
The second position you can take is
the one that we hold
here are Berean church is that the Bible is fully trustworthy in all
that it records only truth whenever it speaks upon any subject. That means that any time the Bible speaks
upon a geographic matter, it speaks truth.
Any time the Bible speaks in terms of numbers, it
speaks truth. Any time the Bible touches
upon a subject of
science, it speaks truth. Any time the
Bible refers to a matter of history, it speaks truth.
Any time of course it speaks upon matters of
faith and practice, it speaks truth.
The third position you may take, and
this is the position to
which evangelicals are rapidly devolving, is that the Bible is partly
trustworthy—that it contains both truth and error, and that it is
Christians, by their reason, to determine which part of the Bible is
they read it, and which part of the Bible is false when they read it.
So there are the three positions that
are at issue: the Bible is not trustworthy
at all; the
Bible is totally trustworthy; or, the Bible is partly trustworthy.
Now I must point out that the
Christian church for almost 2,000
years from apostolic times has held to the full trustworthiness of the
Bible. There have been few if any people
over the centuries who have rejected the inerrancy or the infallibility
Bible. I want to warn you that the
opponents of an inerrant Bible today are trying to pull the word
away. They say, “We believe in an
Bible, but we do not believe in an inerrant Bible.”
What they’re trying to say is, “We
the Bible conveys truth but it doesn’t convey it in accurate
language all the
time. It says some things that are
wrong. It has mistakes in it but it still
conveys truth. Of course that’s a
game of logic but the dictionary equates the words
“infallible” and “inerrant”
as being synonymous.
I have been amazed to read that some
of these leaders and
professors in theological schools who are in and have been in the
camp are actually now trying to claim that the doctrine of inerrancy
been believed by the church over the centuries.
That is a bunch of molded salami sliced thick. It has always been the doctrine of the
Christian church from the very beginning, that the Scriptures were
error, that the Scriptures cannot be broken, that heaven and earth can
away but not one jot or tittle of the Word will pass away.
That has always been the position of
Christianity. There have been few if any
who have denied that. It was not until,
in point of fact, the Renaissance that things began to change.
After the thousand years of the Dark
Ages and the
restriction of human learning brought about by the dominance of the
Catholic Church over human society throughout western civilization, the
broke forth upon the mind of man. It was
a return to the enlightenment of study and of learning and of discovery
and of science,
which was born based upon the Scriptures—the fact that the
Scriptures say that
some things are right and some things are wrong, some things are this
some things are that way, and there is a God who makes everything work. Modern science could not have come into
existence were it not for the fact that they understood that there was
who performed who had created inviolable natural laws by which the
functioned. But the Renaissance elevated
human reason above the authority of the Bible and everything
rejected. Part of this goes back to
Thomas Aquinas who taught that man was fallen in all respects except
mentality—that his mind was not corrupted and that his mind could
back to God. His mind could think itself
back to divine truth. That is
false. Man’s thinking is among the
corrupt things. Man’s thinking is
brought on the flood of Noah’s day, as a matter of fact. It was the fact, the Bible says, that
thinking was continually evil that brought about that destruction of
The Renaissance however elevated human
reason above the
authority of the Bible and said there is no such thing as the
supernatural. Reason and science then
replaced revelation in spiritual matters and thus the Scripture first
question and doubt. The Bible came to be
viewed as merely a human book—a book that men had produced
own misconceptions of the era in which the writers lived.
Now you say, “Why would these men say that
Daniel was not a prophet, predicting these world empires, when Jesus
was a prophet?” They will say,
Jesus did know better, but people of the day thought that so He just
accommodated himself to what they thought.”
They do the same thing for why Moses wrote the first
five books of the
Bible. “Well, because he
to what people think.” Why did Jesus
that Isaiah wrote the whole book of Isaiah?
The historical critical method said, “Oh no,
just the first 39 chapters
were written by Isaiah. From 40 on
somebody else wrote it.” Jesus
from the latter part, in Isaiah 53. Jesus
said that Isaiah said this. “Well,”
say, “Jesus knew better but he was just pretending.
He was just accommodating Himself to the
ignorance of the day.”
So the Bible is a book that’s
merely men telling what they
think about religious matters and incorporating their misconceptions
existed in their day. Therefore the
Bible is to be viewed as merely a historic development—a book
historically evolved out of human history, and that it must be
examined by reason to sift out the truth about God.
This is termed “historical criticism.” This is the historical critical method, that
the Bible evolved over a period of time out of men’s writings and
incorporated their error, and now reason must analyze what is true and
Now I want you to become acquainted
with a name. Where did this whole concept
criticism begin? Well, it began with
this man: Johann Semler.
He lived from 1725 to 1791. In
the 18th century, when the
fruit of the Renaissance were reaching their maximum effectiveness, and
reason, the era of rationalism was at its peak, Johann Semler was a son
Lutheran minister. The father belonged
to what is called the Pietistic group of the Lutherans, and this was a
close, a very holy life devotion to the person of Jesus Christ. Johann Semler rebelled against this. He rebelled against his father’s
orthodoxy. He rebelled because he was a
man. He was a product of the age of
rationalism that was peaking in the 18th century. He came up with a concept that said
this: The problem with theology up to
now has been that the Scriptures and the Word of God had been equated
and the same thing. By
meant the Bible. So it was Semler who
came up with the concept that the problem with theology was that we are
that the Bible is the Word of God, and he said that is wrong. They are not the same things.
That within the Bible is to be found the Word
of God, and reason must analyze which is the Word of God and which is
Semler says that Jesus Christ
accommodated Himself to the
prejudices, to the errors, to the superstitions of the times in order
people, but He knew better. There are
therefore in Scriptures, since there is no supernatural, there are no
there is no such thing as demon possession, there is no such thing as
resurrection from the dead, and Semler started the concept right down
to make the Bible acceptable to the era of rationalism.
Rationalism says that if I can’t understand
it, then it can’t exist, and I don’t believe it. It had to be grasped by the senses.
Dr. Harold Lindsell in his second
book, The Bible in the
Balance, has a summary on Johann Semler because I think it will
together for you in a very excellent way exactly what Semler set in
motion. Everything we are struggling with
here. Here’s where the devil kicked
second line of attack, that second pinser movement that he set in
was going to climax in his becoming the God of the tribulation world. On page 280, Dr. Lindsell says, “Johann
Semler was born in 1725 at Saalfeld. He
was the son of a pious Lutheran pastor, a fact that influenced him
that he came to detest pietism.
Strangely enough he was to occupy the chair of
theology at Halle
University which was of piteous background.
Before that he taught at Coburg and Altdorf. In 1757 he succeeded Bumgarten as head of the
theological faculty at Halle. He was the
one who developed the principles of textual criticism of the Bible. He departed from the orthodoxy of his father
when he challenged the idea of the verbal inspiration of the
to a strictly historical interpretation of the Bible.
Professor Eugene F. Klug had this to say
about him and about the methodology he introduced into the bloodstream
“’The historical critical
approach to the Bible has its
history of course. Johann Semler, late
18th century, is usually designated as father of the
not only handled the Bible as an object for scrutiny and criticism, but
a book little different from, and no more holy than, any other, and
to be equated with the Word of God. Very
plainly he was saying that he rejected the divine inspiration of the
text. This was but a symptom of his
theological stance, a tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
His was really a revolt against miracles and
the supernatural in general, and against heaven in particular. God’s supernatural activity in history
was not in Semler’s book. Not
unexpectedly, under his and others’ hands, the Bible’s text
suffered deliberate vivisection. The
surgery was quite often radical and overt without benefit of anesthesia
those directly affected by it in the churches.’”
Gerhard Maier points out in his book, The
End of the
Historical Critical Method, at the heart of what Professor Semler
and propagated is contained in one sentence he wrote:
“The root of the evil in theology is the
interchangeable use of the terms ‘Scripture’ and
‘Word of God.’” By this
Dr. Semler meant that the Bible or
Scripture contains the Word of God or that not all of Scripture is the
God. This meant that his goal from that
point onward was to find the Word of God in Scripture.
I started this chapter by referring to the
Renaissance, stating that today’s situation can be understood
only in the light
of what happened as a result of that movement.
Whether Professor Semler realized it or not, he was
a product of
Renaissance thinking. He was a
secularist in spirit. He approached the
Bible as a scientist with supposed objectivity and without bias. He did not therefore really acknowledge what
had been the pre-Renaissance dictum that God had spoken and had not
in His speech. He did allow that there
is a Word of God but he set himself up as the one who determinates of
Word of God is. This is exactly what
lies at the heart of the historical critical method.
Man is autonomous. He
decides for himself what the word of God
is. Once this becomes true, then all men
are faced with the problem of determining which man is correct in
parts of the Bible are the Word of God.
It leaves forever open whether I choose to believe
one critic over
another since all of them disagree with each other.
“It should be clear, for
example, that if I accept the ruminations
of Professor Bultmann, I have immediately rejected the viewpoint of all
reformers—the viewpoint of Augustine and the church fathers. I have effectively rejected the human authors
of the Bible, from Paul and Peter to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Why then should I accept Professor Bultmann
reject the others? This is a question
which must be faced candidly. J. I.
Packer is surely one of evangelicalism’s great British scholars. He authored a book entitled Fundamentalism
and the Word of God. Another book
which is directly related to the present discussion was published in
is titled God Speaks to Man; Revelation and the Bible. Dr. Packer says that the churches have
reached a point in which there is ‘a famine of hearing the words
of the Lord
(Amos 8:11 ff). He said at no time since
the reformation has the church as a body been so unsure, tentative, and
confused as to what they should believe and do.
Preaching is hazy. Heads
muddled. Hearts fret.
Doubts drain our strength. We
stand under the divine judgment. For us
too the Word of God is in a real sense
“Dr. Packer sees the source of
the problem to be biblical
criticism. He is talking about the
historical critical method. He said,
theology in its pride has long insisted that we are wiser than our
about the Bible and must not read it as they did, but must base our
it on the assured results of criticism, making due allowances for the
imperfections and errors of its authors.
This insistence has a threefold effect.
One, it produces a new papalism, the infallibility
of the scholars from
whom we learn what the results are. Two,
it raises a doubt about every single Bible passage as to whether it
or not. Three, it destroys the reverent,
receptive, self-distrusting attitude of approach to the Bible without
cannot be known to be God’s Word written.
spiritual famine of which Amos spoke, ‘God judges our pride by
leaving us to
the barrenness, hunger, and discomfort which flow from our self-induced
inability to read His Word.’
“While Dr. Packer acknowledged
some of the valuable results
of much of modern careful Bible study, he asked how it could at the
be so destructive. Its mistake was that
it separated the Bible from the Word of God.
In short, it was the error begun by Johann Semler
and perpetuated in the
historical critical method to this hour.
Inerrancy is impossible to accept once this deadly
made. So speaks J. R. Packer, one of
evangelicalism’s most careful scholars.”
So that puts it all together. The whole issue begun by Semler has now born
the bitter fruit in our day of a Scripture that has been placed in a
where scholars have to decide what can be understood and what cannot be
Dr. John E. Danish, 1971
to the Basic Bible Doctrine index
the Bible Questions index