Inerrancy – Is God a False Prophet?

by Reed DePace

I recently finished reading the most recent issue of the Westminster Theological Journal. In it Gregory K. Beale has an excellent article in which he offers an exegetical defense of the necessity of inerrancy. I won’t offer a review of that article here, but rather encourage y’all to get a hold of it. It is pretty good.

In the article Beale uses God’s standards for prophets speaking His word to make the case that inerrancy is indeed an essential and necessary characteristic of the Bible. Centered mostly in an excursive in Revelation, Beale offers a pretty convincing argument. (But, of course, I’m already a kool-aide drinker, so what do I know?)

As I read the argument I was reminded of a passage pressed upon me in my early days of discipleship, Deut. 18:20-22:

20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’ – 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

So, is not God’s word written by men called under the standards of prophetic ministry? Yes, of course. And do these standards not require that their words be true? Yes, of course. Specifically, is not the characteristic of truth in the above passage specifically historical truthfulness, that is accuracy in terms of what actually does happen in time? The passage certainly does say that.

So, if it be maintained that God’s word does indeed contain historical inaccuracies (e.g., no real Adam), does this not mean, at the very least, that Moses (and any inspired editor of the Pentateuch), fails the Deuteronomical test for a prophet speaking for God?

At the very least, we should not “be afraid” of Moses. Let’s throw out any book he had a hand in writing, and of course any book dependent upon his writings. (Uhh, wait a minute, that includes the whole Bible.)

Wait, here is a worse thought! Suppose you want to maintain inspiration, but deny inerrancy. That would mean that Moses really was speaking for God. So, if there are errors in the Bible, that would mean God Himself is guilty of being a false prophet. Now we’re facing a real dilemma. If false prophets should die, God should die for authoring error in His own name.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure not going to start throwing stones at God. Instead, I’m going to stick with my conviction about inerrancy. It is much simpler to believe the Bible is what is says it is, God’s own inspired, infallible, AND inerrant word, than to spend the time trying to figure a way out of the mental knots one ties himself in when he denies inerrancy.

God’s word is inerrant. Stay away from the stones.

Reed DePace

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9 Comments

  1. Jeff Downs said,

    July 7, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Reed,

    Dr. Beale’s article is online here

    Blessings,

  2. Reed Here said,

    July 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Jeff: great! Thanks brother!

  3. Daniel Ritchie said,

    July 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Reed,

    What is a “False Prophey” ;-)

  4. Frank Davies said,

    July 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    And I assume we are talking about the inerrancy of the original autographs? How do we know they were inerrant without access to them? Where do Westcott and Hort fit in?

  5. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    A very satisfying, a very accurate, and very good conclusion by Prof. Beale:

    “Thus, can the Bible be fully inspired by a perfect God and yet still contain
    errors?

    John and other scriptural writers say “no.”

  6. Frank Davies said,

    July 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I’d like to see more attempts by reformed scholars to confront actual problem passages in detail rather than to simply to state the importance of the doctrine.

  7. Reed Here said,

    July 9, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Frank, start with Warfield. Then you can go on from there.

  8. Roy Kerns said,

    July 9, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Frank,
    My conclusion that the Bible is what it says it is shapes my whole approach to pondering any situation in which I puzzle over what appears to me a conflict between scripture and any other source of information.

  9. David Reece said,

    July 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Frank Davies,

    Gordon H. Clark actually did what you are talking about in his “Logical Criticism of Textual Criticism” and a collection of his essays entitled “God’s Hammer”.

    Check them out over at the TrinityFoundation.org


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