Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
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The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian church in this
and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully
obeying God's written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct
is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness
of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession
of its authority.
following Statement affirms this inerrancy of Scripture afresh, making
clear our understanding of it and warning against its denial. We are persuaded
that to deny it is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the
Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God's own Word
which marks true Christian faith. We see it as our timely duty to make
this affirmation in the face of current lapses from the truth of inerrancy
among our fellow Christians and misunderstanding of this doctrine in the
world at large.
Statement consists of three parts: a Summary Statement, Articles of Affirmation
and Denial, and an accompanying Exposition. It has been prepared in the
course of a three-day consultation in Chicago. Those who have signed the
Summary Statement and the Articles wish to affirm their own conviction
as to the inerrancy of Scripture and to encourage and challenge one another
and all Christians to growing appreciation and understanding of this doctrine.
We acknowledge the limitations of a document prepared in a brief, intensive
conference and do not propose that this Statement be given creedal weight.
Yet we rejoice in the deepening of our own convictions through our discussions
together, and we pray that the Statement wehave signed may be used to the
glory of our God toward a new reformation of the church in its faith, life
offer this Statement in a spirit, not of contention, but of humility and
love, which we purpose by God's grace to maintain in any future dialogue
arising out of what we have said. We gladly acknowledge that many who deny
the inerrancy of Scripture do not display the consequences of this denial
in the rest of their belief and behavior, and we are conscious that we
who confess this doctrine often deny it in life by failing to bring our
thoughts and deeds, our traditions and habits, into true subjection to
the divine Word.
invite response to this statement from any who see reason to amend its
affirmations about Scripture by the light of Scripture itself, under whose
infallible authority we stand as we speak. We claim no personal infallibility
for the witness we bear, and for any help which enables us to strengthen
this testimony to God's Word we shall be grateful.
God, who is himself truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture
in order thereby to reveal himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ
as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God's witness
Holy Scripture, being God's own Word, written by men prepared and superintended
by his Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which
it touches: it is to be believed, as God's instruction, in all that it
affirms; obeyed, as God's command, in all that it requires; embraced, as
God's pledge, in all that it promises.
The Holy Spirit, Scripture's divine author, both authenticates it to us
by his inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault
in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation,
about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under
God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.
The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine
inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view
of truth contrary to the Bible's own; and such lapses bring serious loss
to both the individual and the church.
OF AFFIRMATION AND DENIAL
I. We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative
Word of God.
deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the church, tradition,
or any other human source.
II. We affirm that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which
God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the church is subordinate
to that of Scripture:
deny that church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater
than or equal to the authority of the Bible.
III. We affirm that the written Word in its entirety is revelation
given by God.
deny that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes
revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.
IV We affirm that God who made mankind in his image has used language
as a means of revelation.
deny that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is
rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny
that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted
God's work of inspiration.
V. We affirm that God's revelation within the Holy Scriptures was progressive.
deny that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever
corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation
has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.
VI. We affirm that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to
the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.
deny that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole
without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.
VII. We affirm that inspiration was the work in which God by his Spirit,
through human writers, gave us his Word. The origin of Scripture is divine.
The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.
deny that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened
states of consciousness of any kind.
VIII. We affirm that God in his work of inspiration utilized the distinctive
personalities and literary styles of the writers whom he had chosen and
deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that he chose,
overrode their personalities.
IX. We affirm that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience,
guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical
authors were moved to speak and write.
deny that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or
otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God's Word.
X. We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the
autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained
from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that
copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent
that they faithfully represent the original.
deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the
absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the
assertion of biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.
XI. We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration,
is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable
in all the matters it addresses.
deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible
and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished,
but not separated.
XII. We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free
from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.
deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual,
religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields
of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about
earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture
on creation and the flood.
XIII. We affirm the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term
with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of
truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny
that inerrancy is negated by biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern
technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational
descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole
and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections
of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.
XIV. We affirm the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.
deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved
vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.
XV. We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching
of the Bible about inspiration.
deny that Jesus' teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to
accommodation or to any natural limitation of his humanity.
XVI. We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to
the Church's faith throughout its history.
deny that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by scholastic Protestantism,
or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher
XVII. We affirm that the Holy Spirit bears witness to theScriptures
assuring believers of the truthfulness of God's written Word.
deny that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or
XVIII. We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by
grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and
devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.
deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying
behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its
teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.
XIX. We affirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility,
and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole
of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead
to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.
deny that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further
deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to
the individual and to the church.
OF AFFIRMATION AND DENIAL
I. We affirm that the normative authority of Holy Scripture is the
authority of God himself, and is attested by Jesus Christ, the Lord of
deny the legitimacy of separating the authority of Christ from the authority
of Scripture, or of opposing the one to the other.
II. We affirm that as Christ is God and man in one person, so Scripture
is, indivisibly, God's Word in human language.
deny that the humble, human form of Scripture entails errancy any more
than the humanity of Christ, even in his humiliation, entails sin.
III. We affirm that the person and work of Jesus Christ are the central
focus of the entire Bible.
deny that any method of interpretation which rejects or obscures the Christ-centeredness
of Scripture is correct.
IV. We affirm that the Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture acts through
it today to work faith in its message.
deny that the Holy Spirit ever teaches to any one anything which is contrary
to the teaching of Scripture.
V. We affirm that the Holy Spirit enables believers to appropriate
and apply Scripture to their lives.
deny that the natural man is able to discern spiritually the biblical message
apart from the Holy Spirit.
VI. We affirm that the Bible expresses God's truth in propositional
statements, and we declare that biblical truth is both objective and absolute.
We further affirm that a statement is true if it represents matters as
they actually are, but is an error if it misrepresents the facts.
deny that, while Scripture is able to make us wise unto salvation, biblical
truth should be defined in
terms of this function. We further deny that
error should be defined as that which willfully deceives.Article VII. We
affirm that the meaning expressed in each biblical text is single, definite,
deny that the recognition of this single meaning eliminates the variety
of its application.
VIII. We affirm that the Bible contains teachings and mandates which
apply to all cultural and situational contexts and other mandates which
the Bible itself shows apply only to particular situations.
deny that the distinction between the universal and particular mandates
of Scripture can be determined by cultural and situational factors. We
further deny that universal mandates may ever be treated as culturally
or situationally relative.
IX. We affirm that the term hermeneutics, which historically signified
the rules of exegesis, may properly be extended to cover all that is involved
in the process of perceiving what the biblical revelation means and how
it bears on our lives.
deny that the message of Scripture derives from, or is dictated by, the
interpreter's understanding. Thus We deny that the horizons of the biblical
writer and the interpreter may rightly fuse in such a way that what the
text communicates to the interpreter is not ultimately controlled by the
expressed meaning of the Scripture.
X. We affirm that Scripture communicates God's truth to us verbally
through a wide variety of literary forms.
deny that any of the limits of human language render Scripture inadequate
to convey God's message.
XI. We affirm that translations of the text of Scripture can communicate
knowledge of God across all temporal and cultural boundaries.
deny that the meaning of biblical texts is so tied to the culture out of
which they came that understanding of the same meaning in other cultures
XII. We affirm that in the task of translating the Bible and teaching
it in the context of each culture, only those functional equivalents which
are faithful to the content of biblical teaching should be employed
deny the legitimacy of methods which either are insensitive to the demands
of cross-cultural communication or distort biblical meaning in the process.
XIII. We affirm that awareness of the literary categories, formal and
stylistic, of the various parts of Scripture is essential for proper exegesis,
and hence we value genre criticism as one of the many disciplines of biblical
deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed
on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.
XIV. We affirm that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings,
though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds
to historical fact.
deny that any event, discourse, or saying reported in Scripture was invented
by the biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated.
XV. We affirm the necessity of interpreting the Bible according to
its literal, or normal, sense The literal sense is the grammatical-historical
sense, that is, the meaning which the writer expressed. Interpretation
according to the literal sense will take account of all figures of speech
and literary forms found in the text.
deny the legitimacy of any approach to Scripture that attributes to it
meaning which the literal sense does not support.
XVI. We affirm that legitimate critical techniques should be used in
determining the canonical text and its meaning.
deny the legitimacy of allowing any method of biblical criticism to question
the truth or integrity of the writer's expressed meaning, or of any other
XVII. We affirm the unity, harmony, and consistency of Scripture and
declare that it is its own best interpreter.
deny that Scripture may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest that
one passage corrects or militates against another.
deny that later writers of Scripture misinterpreted earlier passages of
Scripture when quoting from or referring to them.
XVIII. We affirm that the Bible's own interpretation of itself is always
correct, never deviating from, but rather elucidating, the single meaning
of the inspired text. The single meaning of a prophet's words includes,
but is not restricted to, the understanding of those words by the prophet
and necessarily involves the intention of God evidenced in the fulfillment
of those words.
deny that the writers of Scripture always understood the full implications
of their own words.
XIX. We affirm that any preunderstandings which the interpreter brings
to Scripture should be in harmony with scriptural teaching and subject
to correction by it.
deny that Scripture should be required to fit alien preunderstandings inconsistent
with itself, such as naturalism, evolutionism, scientism, secular humanism,
XX. We affirm that since God is the author of all truth, all truths,
biblical and extrabiblical, are consistent and cohere, and that the Bible
speaks truth when it touches on matters pertaining to nature, history,
or anything else. We further affirm that in some cases extrabiblical data
have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction
of faulty interpretations.
deny that extrabiblical views ever disprove the teaching of Scripture or
hold priority over it.
XXI. We affirm the harmony of special with general revelation and therefore
of biblical teaching with the facts of nature.
deny that any genuine scientific facts are inconsistent with the true meaning
of any passage of Scripture.
XXII. We affirm that Genesis 1-11 is factual, as is the rest of the
deny that the teachings of Genesis 1-11 are mythical and that scientific
hypotheses about earth history or the origin of humanity may be invoked
to overthrow what Scripture teaches about creation.-
XXIII. We affirm the clarity of Scripture and specifically of its message
about salvation from sin.
deny that all passages of Scripture are equally clear or have equal bearing
on the message of redemption.
XXIV. We affirm that a person is not dependent for understanding of
Scripture on the expertise of biblical scholars.
deny that a person should ignore the fruits of the technical study of Scripture
by biblical scholars.
XXV. We affirm that the only type of preaching which sufficiently conveys
the divine revelation and its proper application to life is that which
faithfully expounds the text of Scripture as the Word of Cod.
deny that the preacher has any message from God apart from the text of
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