Notes from Norman

Home Books Articles Remembering NPG Notes from Norman Photo-History NPG Influences Guest Book Links

Inerrancy of the Bible

by Norman P. Grubb

May-June 1981 Union Life Magazine

Q. Do you believe in the inerrancy of the Bible?

A. That’s easy to answer: Yes! But there is this recurring problem of definition or more detailed explanation. That is why I don’t really like to get involved in these leading questions which are not framed in biblical terms. We so easily slip into the words and phrases, distractions which Paul several times warned Timothy to avoid. But having been asked the question, here is the answer.

Yes, but the only final inerrancy can be in the Scriptures originally given. And of course we don’t have them. We depend on translations or copies. This may give an excuse, if any want one, to raise questions about inerrancy. I don’t because I seek to be “existentialist.” In other words: Let’s be practical and down-to-earth.

Now I had to come down to earth to the very last word myself, because I had the privilege of spending the Twenties in the Congo, translating the New Testament into the market language of that area of north-eastern Congo, called Bangala. My brother-in-law, Alfred Buxton, had produced the first primer and made a partial translation of New Testament passages. I had time available and gave myself to producing the complete translations (as well as some parts of the Old Testament and Psalms). To do this I used my King James Version and my knowledge of Greek. Because of my years of study at public school and at Cambridge I could take back each phrase to the Greek. By these means I found completely all I needed to produce this translation. (To my joy, since the Congo became independent and adopted the name Zaire, this Bangala dialect, now called Lingala, is the official language of the whole nation, and the translation of the whole Bible has long been completed.)

But my point is that there is certainly sufficient “inerrancy” in our versions for all practical purposes, and in no place is any vital truth in doubt. Certainly there are variant readings and some few passages in question as to their real meaning, but except for linguists or theologians called to explore the most detailed accuracy, we can and do boldly say, “Yes, our Scriptures are inerrant.” And we are wise to concentrate our undivided attention on what the Spirit is saying through the Word, not on questions about the possible accuracy of one word or another. Let the Scriptures be what we hold them to be in our Union Life fellowship, and what Jesus said they are: “spirit and life.” And let us avoid those who remain in the “letter that kills.” Thank God for a totally reliable Scripture, revealing to us a totally reliable Lord Jesus Christ with the Father and Spirit.