In his quest to understand the meaning of Bible inspiration, the young man felt confident that Dr. Beal could help him. He was well respected in the evangelical community and was known for his consistent outreach to unbelievers. He had led many to Christ and obviously had encountered many of the questions about inspiration.
“Sit down, my friend,” he said, as the young man entered his office. “I understand you’ve already talked to Rev. Adams. Well, I can’t say I hold to his notions of looking beyond the cultural trappings of the Bible to find the truth. However, I also cannot say I accept every statement in the Bible about astronomy, geology, physics or biology to be 100% accurate. But they don’t have to be for me to have confidence in the Scriptures. You see, none of the basic doctrines of the Bible is directly affected by whether or not Adam was created in 4000 B.C. or one million B.C. And it doesn’t change the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone to know that the sun does not rise and set, but that the earth revolves around the sun. God allowed the human authors of Scripture to write out of their own backgrounds and cultures, yet when it came to the core doctrines of the Bible these men were a primary source of inspiration. When Paul or Peter or John, or of course, Jesus, spoke on salvation, man, or God, they had the authority of God Himself.”
With this the young man departed. Much that Dr. Beal said made sense. The one issue, however, that he had to solve for himself was whether or not the Bible did claim inerrancy for itself. If it did and the authors were speaking with God’s authority, that was it. He would accept that teaching as inspired and true and defend all supposed errors as not really errors in fact, or else he would have to deny the inspiration of that claim to inerrancy. The easiest thing would be if the Bible did not claim inerrancy.
Or would it? At that point, it would be necessary to begin culling out the “less inspired” portions so as to leave the basic truth. But now he would be right back where he started. Who would decide what was authoritative and what was less likely to be so? If you accepted Paul’s teaching about salvation, but rejected his views on women, would that be fair to his own claims of authority? If he was not authoritative in one area, why would he be in another? This made the reader the ultimate authority when it came to matters of faith. That didn’t leave us any better off than if we had not had a Bible to begin with. It made the Bible merely a jumping off point for discussion, with ourselves as the final arbiters as to what was true and what wasn’t.
What did the Bible claim for itself? That was the question.