The Inspiration and Inerrancy of the Bible
We believe that the Bible is God's word. The doctrinal statement of Moody Bible Institute affirms, "The Bible, including both the Old and New Testaments, is a divine revelation, the original autographs of which were verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit."1
Revelation is God's self-disclosure. It is God making Himself known to men.2 God has revealed himself in a limited way in creation.3 But the Bible is a form of special revelation. The Bible is "special" revelation in the sense that it goes beyond what may be known about God through nature.4 It is divine in origin, since in the Bible God makes known things which otherwise could never be known.
The Bible is unique because it is God's revelation recorded in human language.5 According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 the words of Scripture are "God breathed" or inspired. This implies that God is the source or origin of what is recorded in Scripture. God, through the Holy Spirit, used human authors to write what He revealed in the Bible. They were not mere copyists or transcribers. The Holy Spirit guided and controlled the writers of Scripture, who used their own vocabularies and styles but wrote only what the Holy Spirit intended.6 This is true only of the original manuscripts, not the copies or translations. Although the original manuscripts have been lost to us, God has preserved the biblical text to a remarkable degree.
The Bible is verbally inspired. This means that the words of the Bible, not just the ideas, were inspired. What is more, this is true of not just some, but all the words of the Bible. As a result, the Bible is free from error in what it says. Moody Bible Institute believes strongly in the factual, verbal, historical inerrancy of the Bible. That is, the Bible, in its original documents, is free from error in what it says about geography, history and science as well as in what it says about God. Its authority extends to all matters about which the Bible speaks.7 It is the supreme source of our knowledge of God and of the salvation provided through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.8 It is our indispensable resource for daily living.9
Even though the Bible is God's revelation, it must still be interpreted. Interpretation has to do with our reception and understanding of that which God revealed and recorded.10 Revelation is a divine act. Interpretation is a human responsibility. Divine inspiration guarantees the truthfulness of God's word but not the accuracy of our interpretation. The Bible is infallible in all it affirms to be true and therefore absolutely reliable. We, however, may be fallible in our interpretation of the Bible.
1 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21
2 1 Corinthians 2:11–16
3 Psalm 19:1
4 Romans 1:19, 20
5 2 Timothy 3:16,17
6 2 Peter 1:21, 1 Corinthians 2:12–13
7 Matthew 5:18; John 10:35
8 John 5:39–47
9 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 1 Peter 2:2
10 John 16:13