An Initial Response to the Suk Editorial

In the October 3, 1994 Banner of the Christian Reformed Church, editor John Suk wrote an editorial entitled: “Inerrancy: Let’s Not Use the Term.” In this article the editor attempts to show that inerrancy is a fundamentalistic idea which zealots borrowed and adapted from secular philosophy.

Pitting the apostle John against the apostle Paul, and theologians Kuyper, Bavinck and Berkouwer against Hodge, Warfield and Lindsell, editor Suk misrepresents the stand of the CRC and constructs a conflict between the Word of God and the Spirit of God which does not exist in reality. He carefully skirts the objective truth of Scripture alone, by making its truth subject to the Spirit’s affirmation in our hearts.

The people in the pew need a clear line of defense against such subtle claims. Much help can be received by reading a 28 page booklet entitled: Does Inerrancy Matter? by James Montgomery Boice. Order from: The Bible Study Hour 1716 Spruce St. Philadelphia, PA 19103

We present the “Preface” to Boice’s booklet below:

I am not fond of the word “inerrancy.” It is negative in form, and I like to sound positive. It is often thought to imply that one sees believing the Bible, especially its details, as mattering more than faith in Christ the Savior, and that is not my view. It is taken by many as enshrining the claim that one can prove Scripture true against all comers and resolve all apparent discrepancies of detail at the drop of a hat, and I know that is more than I can do.

But the word inerrancy is one I need. Any word, as we know, can become a “weasel word” through having some of its meaning rubbed off, and this has happened to all my preferred terms for telling the world my beliefs about the Bible. I hear folk declare Scripture inspired (which in theology means God-given) and in the next breath say that it misleads us from time to time. They call it infallible and authoritative, meaning only that in experience, its impact on us and the commitments to which it urges us, will keep us in God’s way, not that all it tells is true. This is not enough for me. I want to safeguard the full, historic, evangelical and radical meaning of these three words. I want to set myself apart from those who have made “weasel words” out of them, and to make clear my intention, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, to take all that Scripture, rightly interpreted, proves to be affirming as instruction to me from my God. So I assert Biblical inerrancy, after all, and encourage all faithful Christians to do the same.

For, first, it is true. If, as Christ and Paul among others believed, Scripture “came through the instrumentality of men from the very mouth of God” (Calvin), any idea of it teaching and affirming some falsehoods must be dismissed as blasphemous nonsense.

Second, it is clarifying. He who asserts inerrancy thereby shows what he means when he calls Scripture inspired, authoritative and infallible. We owe such honesty to each other.

Third, it is health-giving (“sound doctrine” in the New Testament sense), for it leads to that systematic submission of our proud minds to Scripture without such we cannot but lose some of God’s precious truth.

The apostle John wrote to some first-century Christians: “You are strong, and the word of God lives in you and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14). I want to see such Christians today; therefore I take a stand for the truth of Biblical inerrancy, and commend Dr. Boice’s booklet most heartily to all who care for the welfare of Christ’s church.

J.I. Packer

A more indepth critique of Editor Suk’s views will appear in the December issue of this magazine. The Editors