What is the relationship between infallibility and authority?
Infallibility and authority have been hot topics of debate in theological circles for several centuries. Let’s start by defining these terms. The doctrine of biblical infallibility is the belief that the Bible is true and reliable in all matters it addresses, including assertions and denials. In other words, it will never lead us astray. If the Bible says that it is true then it is true, and if the Bible says that it is false, then it is false. Infallibility is synonymous with the term “inerrancy” and proceeds out of the doctrine of God and the doctrine of inspiration. Since God cannot lie (Romans 3:4; Titus 1:2) and since the Scripture is fully God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), it is the right and reasonable conclusion that the Bible is without error, making it true and reliable in all matters it addresses.
The doctrine of biblical authority is the belief that the Bible has the supreme right to command a belief and/or action. By supreme right, I mean that there is no higher word than the Scripture. Therefore, it demands pride of place. All churches and individuals must bow to Scripture. It is God’s standard for belief and action to the point that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. We see this truth demonstrated throughout the Scripture but particularly in the following texts:
·Isaiah 66:2, “For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
·John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
So, what is the relationship between the two? I would argue that the Bible’s infallibility is the grounds for the Bible’s authority. In other words, the Bible has the supreme right to command what humanity is to believe and to do because it is 100% true and reliable, and it is 100% true and reliable because it is 100% God’s Word. It will not, in fact cannot, be falsified. The Bible is the truth. Therefore, we had better believe and do what it says if we want to please God. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” On that day of judgment, Scripture will be the standard by which we will be judged. May we be found living under its authority.