Scripture’s Infallibility Objections Answered by William Hendriksen

The objections conccrn deviations from the Reformed position. These objections will be stated first; then, in each case, my answer.

Objection No. 1

Since we know that in the process of copying and/or translating the autographa (= originals) errors were made, we can no longer speak of an “infallible” Bible.


Nonsense! Whatever the holy authors wrote remains infallible. 11 is what God wanted it to be. See II Timothy 3:16, 17; 11 Peter 1:21. Does anyone seriously wish to maintain that the Word of God has lost its infallible character because a certain copyist, printer, proofreader, or translator erred? Let us not confuse the issue! Moreover, instead of exaggerating the proportion of error in copying, etc. let us rather try to correct such mistakes. The Word is and remains infallible!

Objection No. 2

When two Gospels tell the same story but on the surface seem to be in conflict on some point, we must not try to clarify such a seeming discrepancy. We must abstain from every attempt to harmonize. John Calvin (in his Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospels) has led us astray.


To be sure, there is a danger here. Each account must be allowed to stand on its own feet. Nevertheless, is it not altogether reasonable that a serious student will tell himself, “Am I reading correctly? Are these accounts really in conflict? Let me take a second look.”

A case in point is the Temptation of Christ narrative in Matthew 4:1–11 compared to that in Luke 4:1–13. There might seem to be a conflict, since Matthews 1, 2, 3 incidents are by Luke arranged in the order 1, 3, 2. However, as the very wording indicates, there is no real conflict at all. Matthew arranges these incidents chronologically; Luke relates them t01Jically, an arrangement he adopts with great frequency throughout his Gospel. Besides, as I have shown in my N.T.C. (Commentary) on Luke, there may well be a reason why it is exactly Luke who places the “pinnacle of the temple” temptation last of all. Placing it there is in line with the entire purpose and tenor of his Gospel.

Those who believe that the entire Bible is the Word of God will of course try to discover how the parallel accounts are related to each other. Do not let the WARNING AGAlNST HARMONIZATION SCARE-CROW frighten you!

Objection No. 3

The Bible is infallible when it discusses matters touching salvation, but not when it deals with matters of a different—for example, historical or geographical—nature.


So closely is the doctrine of Creation intertwinoo with the story of Creation, and the doctrine of the Resurrection with the story of the Resurrection, that separation between doctrinal and historical is entirely impossible! And the doctrine of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is presented in a definitely geographical context. See Acts 2:5–13. The distinction drawn is an impossible one!

Objection No. 4

The “holy authors” (Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, Paul, etc.) committed serious errors in their use of vocabulary and grammar.


Who, indeed, is that linguistic and stylistic genius who has such a phenomenal knowledge of all the languages which contributed to the vocabulary and grammar of the authors of Scripture that he is able to sit in judgment on such matters? To be sure, there are deviations from the normal, but it would be entirely wrong to call them mistakes. Mark‘s grammar and vocabulary differs from that of Luke, but I would be the last one to speak of errors in this connection.

Objections No. 5

It is clear that in such passages as a. Luke 23:43; II Cor.12:4; Rev. 2:7; also b. Rev. 12:9, 14, 15; 20:2; also c. Rev. 2:7; 22:2, 14; and also d. Rev. 22:1, 2 such terms as, respectively, a. “paradise,” h. “serpent,” c.tree of life,” and d.river” are used in a manner that can hardly be called strictly literal. Therefore we do not have to believe that in the Genesis 3 story these terms need to be interpreted literally. It cannot be proved that a snake ever actually said anything to Eve, nor can it be established that the other items in the Genesis 3 account must be taken literally.


This type of reasoning puts the cart before the horse. Literal use precedes symbolical use. Genesis 3 must be interpreted literally, historically. If not, why take Genesis 4 literally? If the FALL did not actually occur, what must we do with the references to it in the New Testament? Besides, if the FALL did not happen as recorded, can we be sure that REDEMPTION took place on Calvary, or that it was even necessary?

Objection No. 6

Since the entire Bible is indeed the infallible Word of God, it must be interpreted literally throughout.


Newspaper articles have been reporting that newly-formed denominations have taken this stand. Let us hope that the reports were erroneous. For passages containing phrases that should not be taken literally, but were nevertheless erroneously so interpreted by those who first heard them, see Matthew 9:24; 16:5-12; John 2:19–21; 3:3, 4; 4:10–12; 6:48–52; 11:11–13. Whether or not a certain word, phrase, or passage must be interpreted literally or figuratively is made clear by a diligent study of the context in each case.

So after fifty years in the ministry, my advice is, “OUTLOOK continue to adhere to your present stand. Yeu are doing fine. Keep it up. Let us tell the beautiful story. Let us remain thoroughly Reformed in its presentation. To God be all the glory.”