Inerrancy And The Local Church

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By the time you are reading this, I will be in Sun Valley California Inerrancy-Summit-300x300attending The Summit on Inerrancy the 2015 iteration of the venerable Shepherds’ Conference, the pastor’s conference hosted every year by the staff and members of Grace Community Church. [1]

Normally, the Shepherd’s Conference is a three day event that, really, at the end of the day, focuses on being an encouragement to pastors and elders from around the world. Because the conference usually focuses on shep4the encouragement and care of pastors, especially those who are weary and wounded from the battle, there has never been a central thematic focus of the conference. Typically the plenary sessions are general encouragements, reminders or exhortations to prayerfulness, faithfulness, and reliance on God. The seminars focused on a variety of topics: current theological trends and controversies, improving your preaching, and other practical helps in ministry.

This year is very different, the conference extended by one day, the number of seminars greatly reduced, and a laser like focus on one topic, the inerrancy of Scripture. In a time like this, we need to focus on inerrancy. Never before has the doctrine of inerrancy been under such fierce attack from inside and outside the church.

bart ehrmanBart Ehrman, professor of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, and History Channel favorite, often screams much of the New Testament is forgeries.

Rob Bell, former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church (Grandville, Michigan) cum Oprah endorsed spiritual guru, recently rrob belleferred to the Pauline Epistles as “2000 year old letters” and went on to say they are non-authoritative when they don’t match our perception of reality.

Perhaps most puzzling of all, Perry Noble, the leader of the largest Southern Baptist congregation in the world said perry noble“I take teaching the Bible very seriously and desperately want to always put forth my best effort as I really do believe that when God says “don’t” in Scripture it is more like Him saying, “don’t hurt yourself,” because, as a friend of mine often says, “choose to sin, choose to suffer.”

Notice the subtlety of the argument. “I take teaching the Bible very seriously…I really believe that when God says…it’s more like Him saying…” One might assume he is saying, in essence, God is unable to clearly communicate through His Word. In other words, in order to teach the Bible he has to fix the errors so it can be more applicable to people’s lives. 

Less than 40 years after the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy was signed this battle must be rejoined, and the doctrine of inerrancy(and by extension the authority of Scripture) defended and returned to its rightful place in the church.

I’m not much of a theologian, I am a small church pastor, but this doctrine is tremendously important to me, the health of my church, and the health of your church too. Here are a few reasons why inerrancy matters to the local church.

  1. Without Inerrancy There is Nodark_church Authority In The Church.

If there are errors in the Bible then there can be no objective standard for the church. [2] If the Bible contains errors, then there is really no way to know where those errors are, and thus all positions of the church are negotiable.

  1. Without Inerrancy There is No Authority in Preaching

Every week I walk up to the pulpit and preach. I preach my heart out IMG_20121012_174546after long hours of studying with all of my might. And I do that for one reason, so my people might hear the word of God and live transformed lives. And sometimes I say things that, quite frankly, people don’t want to hear (and truth be told at times, neither do I) because biblical preaching holds up the mirror of God’s word to our lives and calls us to die to sin. If someone would say to me “why should I listen to you?” I can truthfully say “you shouldn’t, but you must listen to the Word of God.” If we allow the notion that Scripture is errant into the church, then deciding truth from error becomes a matter of subjectivity.

And one thing has become crystal clear as we observe the trend of churches that have jettisoned inerrancy. The errant, fallible portions of Scripture are always the ones that call people to stand against the prevailing winds of culture.

  1. Without Inerrancy There Is No Basis For Biblical Counseling

In his landmark work A Theology of Christian Counseling Jay Adams states:

“Theology is the attempt to bring to bear upon any given doctrine all that the Bible has to say about it…it is necessary to have a theological orientation toward Scripture to avoid misleading counselees, to correct errors in thought and practice [and]…to communicate truth authoritatively.”

If Scripture errs then, as a pastor, I cannot confidently develop a counselingcomprehensive theology, or be confident that my counsel will lead those I counsel. Moreover, if inerrancy is rejected in the pews then those who need counsel will gravitate away from seeking biblical counsel, and worldly counsel does not provide  or ever produce a truly transformed life.

Inerrancy truly is, and always has been, the life blood of the true church. And as someone who loves the church, and especially the local church the Lord has entrusted to me, I see this fight, not as one for theologians, but one for Pastors and elders. If we lose inerrancy we have lost the very basis of church ministry. Paul’s charge to Timothy was to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2), Jesus prayer for His people was that they would be sanctified in truth, and truth is the Word of God (John 17:17). The word of God is perfect and pure (Psalm 19:7). Every pastor, elder, and believer must rally around and defend this truth. Inerrancy is a local church matter serving as the foundation to the pulpit in the local church.

 

[1] You can live stream the conference here, shepherdsconference.org

[2] When we refer to the Bible being inerrant, we mean in the autographs or the original manuscripts. This is why textual criticism is so important. We’ll have to leave textual transmission and canonicity for another post.

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This entry was posted in Bible Interpretation, Church Ministry, Counseling, Theology by John Chester. Bookmark the permalink.
John Chester

About John Chester

John serves the saints of Piedmont Bible Church, a Grace Advance church plant in Haymarket Virginia, as their shepherd, a position he has held since 2012 and hopes to serve in the rest of his life. Prior to being called to ministry John worked as a lacrosse coach, a pizza maker, a writer, a marketing executive, and just about everything in between. John is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary and The Grace Advance Academy. He hails from The City of Champions, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and is unbelievably blessed to be married to his wife Cassandra.