Last week, we cited the 11 fundamental beliefs of our church, which we adopted from the American Council of Christian Churches, on whose executive board Pas. Joe serves. Perhaps you noticed there were four slight modifications to the following statements:
1. The verbal, plenary divine inspiration and preservation of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and, as the Word of God, the supreme and final authority in faith and life;
5. His substitutionary, propitiatory death, in that He gave His life "a ransom for many";
9. The everlasting bliss of the saved, and the everlasting torment of the wicked in hell;
In statement 1., we added verbal as well as and preservation. Let's review what the key technical terms mean.
- Verbal = God spoke and it was written down. Every word is put exactly as God wanted it.
- Plenary = All of scripture is the Bible. All we need is there. Not one of God's intended Words are missing.
- Inspiration = The Bible is God-breathed (God-spoken), and divinely authoritative.
- Preserved = The Bible in its original tongue (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) has been transmitted intact down to the jot and tittle.
If we omit verbal, then the unit of communication is no longer the divinely transmitted Word, but could be a dream or a voice from God, which no longer occurs today. Though implied by later phrases, the ancient church often testified to the verbal plenary inspiration of scriptures. Its absence could raise a flag.
The matter of preservation is a hot topic today, and is actively debated between faithful fundamental seminary professors and (sadly) their numerous liberal colleagues in the Reformed camp. While nearly all claim to hold to inerrancy, what most Pastors and professors mean is that only the parchment on which Paul wrote is inerrant, not what we have today. Why? Look here next week for more on this hot topic!