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The Doctrine of God and Infallibility

By R. J. Rushdoony
December 01, 1998

Scripture tells me that God, being God, is incapable of lying (Num. 23:9). Jesus Christ more explicitly defines himself as the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6). There is no access to the Godhead except through him. Scripture is explicit about identifying Jesus Christ with the Godhead, and God as the truth.

This doctrine of God is thus very important in the doctrine of Scripture. God cannot lie. He is also immutable, unchangeable. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. "For I am the LORD, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). Change means that things outside ourselves affect and govern our being. As creatures, we are dependent on a world of other peoples and a vast creation made by God. God has no such need for others nor a need for anything outside himself. In fact, God expresses his displeasure with all double-minded men (Ja. 1:6-7).

There can be nothing prior to the one and eternal God so that there is nothing that can contribute to his being. He is forever one God in three Persons, and forever one, yet in three Persons. God who cannot lie is thus forever truth, and all that he is and does is truth. God therefore can speak only an infallible word. In all other religions except those which have borrowed from or are imitative of the Bible, there is no doctrine of inerrancy nor infallibility. Bible religion, on the other hand, mandates it. The God who speaks in and through the Bible speaks a necessarily infallible word. God is internally and eternally God, all wise and all perfect in all his being. His perfection is also a moral perfection, whereas in some religions this moral perfection is lacking, or is replaced by cleverness. Some native religions saw in their supreme being no moral excellence, but a constant cleverness that was a delight, rather than a moral strength.

Unless a religion arises after Christianity and is imitative of it, it has no doctrine of inerrancy nor infallibility because the question is essentially alien to it. On the other hand, in Christianity, the doctrine of infallibility is an inescapable implication of its doctrines of God and revelation.

When we turn to the Bible, as against two works written as imitations thereof, the differences are many. Believers in the Koran, and in the Book of Mormon, are as convinced, as are Christians, in the truth and historicity of those works. They are given as true and historical. Much criticism has been leveled against both works, and we have no intention here of reporting on the history of this criticism.

Both the Koran and the Book of Mormon purport to be in continuity with the Bible, so they begin by making a claim to a final place in the history of revelation. The final truth in the history of revelation is in them, or will come through them. Islam left room for a great prophet yet to come, a king or warrior king or emahdi, and Mormonism believes in a continuing revelation through the hands of the twelve apostles who rule the church. Thus, the finality of revelation is denied even as an arena of authoritative rule is set forth. The finality of the enscriptured word is replaced with the finality of some men. In this step, a dramatic change in the faith has taken place, and a shift in authority. In the place of the infallible work, we have the binding authority of a group of men. The new revelations undermine the Biblical one.

Orthodox theology thus speaks of the Bible's "verbal inspiration," "plenary inspiration," and so on. The Scriptures are the very words of God, the oracles of God. Van Til thus wrote, " . . . we may thus call this view of God and his relation to the world the covenantal view. As such it is exhaustively personal. There is no area in which man can find himself confronted with impersonal fact or law. All so-called impersonal laws and all so-called uninterpreted facts are what they are because they are expressive of the revelation of God's will and purpose" (C. Van Til: The Doctrine of Scripture [Den Dulk Foundation, 1967], p. 37). This should tell us why the language of covenantalism is Reformed and Van Tilian. It is alien to antinomianism and holds to the personal and covenantal law of the Triune God.

Basic to Biblical Faith, to the Reformed Faith, is the belief in the sovereignty of God. The term lord is applied to God in both Old and New Testaments and is in the Septuagint routinely rendered as lord, God, or sovereign. Calvinism has done justice to the doctrine of God's sovereignty and therefore has been most ready to champion inerrancy, because basic to that view of Scripture is God's lordship or sovereignty.

Where men reject God's sovereignty, they accept and exalt man's sovereignty, and man's reason then prevails over faith and God's sovereignty. Rationalism then too prevails over presuppositionalism, and theology is supplanted with humanistic calculations. We have then the world of the contemporary church, with God locked out by supposedly sovereign man.

The infallible God of Scripture can speak only an infallible word, and this he has done. No other word is possible from such a God. Humanism in its every form will require a god who cannot speak, or who speaks with a confused tongue. The God of Scripture is not such a God. He is the Lord, the Sovereign King over all creation. His word is the creating word, the infallible and inerrant word. In affirming the word of God as infallible, we affirm our faith that the God of Scripture is he whom he says he is, and that we believe his every word, and by his grace, hope to live in terms of his every word.

 


Topics: Reformed Thought, R. J. Rushdoony

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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