This doctrine (article faith) is basic to all others, for what do we know about God, ourselves, salvation, etc. apart from the Bible? And if the Bible is not infallible (contains error), then “the game is up”. Preaching is a waste of time. (Which is why many of those who continue to “preach”, though themselves not believing in the authority, etc. of Scripture, use other books, etc. for their “texts” besides the Bible. Confucius and others undeniably said many sensible things.)
First, infallibility (freedom from error) is not the same as inspiration. A textbook (on math or physics) might be free of error, but hardly inspired (or inspiring.) By in-spiration we mean that the Holy Spirit is in it, much like God “occupied” the hair and fingernails of the body of Christ, who also is called the Word of God. In other words, the Bible (unlike many inspiring, influential books by merely human authors) does not simply change us, so that we become abolitionists (after reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin) or ecology-minded, but we ourselves are trans-formed, are made over into the very likeness of the Author. (James 1:18, I Peter 1:23 – 2:3)
Like God himself, neither infallibility nor inspiration of His Word can be “proved” in the “scientific” sense. (The Bible doesn’t try to do either, but simply states them as fact.) On the other hand, there are many evidences for all these truths, and none of them, of course, have been “scientifically” disproved. In fact, many supposed errors in the Bible are increasingly being found to be factual. “Inaccuracies” of timings (military vs. civilian), measurements (metric vs. British), etc. Despite our emphasis upon scientific accuracy, like the Bible, we speak of the sun rising and setting, and the “four corners of the earth” (directions) when we know it is round. Historians of the future may wonder how “Pearl Harbor” was Sunday in Hawaii and Monday in the Philippines.
Matter of fact, the timeless and accurate Word of God displays its divine endowment of the human authors by saying that our sins are separated from us as far as East is from the West (not such precise statements as North from the South, with their measurable distance, a difference which was of no significance to people in Jesus’ day, with their ignorance of the world geographically). Jesus’ incidental story of people in bed while others were working in the field must have seemed droll, if not ridiculous, to people without a comprehension of our time zones, true in those days even though they were not marked off from Greenwich.
Suffice it to say that the infallibility and inspiration of Scripture are “proved” by that best of confirmation, personal experience, like the once-blind man who could not defend Jesus’ divinity nor explain his cure medically, but simply said, irrefutably, “Once I was blind; now I see.” What non-inspired book would have accomplished what the irresistible, God-Indwelt Word (His voice, that brings into being and makes the dead come alive) has done in history and in our own lives?
Next time we will talk about the subject of miracles in the context of the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture.