What Do Baptists Believe About the Bible?

What do Baptists believe about the Bible? This session will cover a wide range of doctrines related to the Bible, its trustworthiness, and its authority.

Inspiration and Revelation – Where the Bible Came From

The doctrines concerning where the Bible came from are encapsulated in Revelation and Inspiration.

  • Revelation is a more general term that is speaks to the knowability of God. God reveals himself in a number of ways, both generally and specifically. General revelation is how God is revealed through the natural world and through conscience. Specific revelation is how God is known in the person of Jesus Christ – the incarnate Word and through the written word, which is the Scriptures (John 1:1-2, Hebrews 1:1-2).
  • Inspiration speaks to the process through which the scriptures are revealed to man. Scripture is said to be “God Breathed”. The process of inspiration is a work of the Holy Spirit, who worked through the experiences and circumstances of the human authors to pen the words and concepts in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:19-20).

Inerrancy, Infallibility, and Reliability – The Truth of the Bible

Because the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is truthful. Three different doctrines underscore truth of scriptures: Inerrancy, Infallibility, and Reliability

  • Inerrancy teaches that the scriptures are accurate in the factual data that they present (Psalm 12:6, Proverbs 30:5-6, Matthew 5:18).
  • Infallibility expresses that there being no mistakes in the message as it pertains to matters of faith, morality, and theology.
  • Reliability states that the Bible is reliable in the its present form because it has been faithfully preserved through the ages (1 Peter 1:25, Psalm 119:89, Isaiah 40:8).

Canonicity, Closure, and Sola Scriptura — The Authority of the Bible

The authority of Scripture is built in the truth of the Bible and moreover the finality of scripture. There are three doctrines that form the Bible as the final authority:

  • Canonicity: The 39 Old Testament book and 27 New Testament books belong to the Christian canon. Criterion was applied by the Jews for the Old Testament early church for the New Testament to decide what would and would not be considered canon. The Jews affirmed the Old Testament by consistency with the Jewish faith, original language of authorship, liturgical use in the community, and the age of the book, saying it was written before or during Ezra’s time. The New Testament was affirmed my apostolic origin, acceptance in the church, liturgical use in the church, and consistent theology.
  • Closure: The canon is said to be “closed”, meaning that no new books can be added to it. Books after Ezra’s time would be excluded because of age, and books after the passing of the last apostles, John, would be excluded due to lack of apostolic origin. No additional scriptures or specific revelation has been given since the closure of scripture (Jude 3, Revelation 22:18-19).
  • Sola Scriptura means “Scripture Alone”. This doctrine was championed by Martin Luther, wherein he rejected the idea that the Pope could speak infallibly and have the same authority as Scripture. He affirmed Sola Scriptura because many things that the Pope was saying contradicted what he found in the Scriptures (Matthew 15:3-6, 1 Corinthians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Illumination, Interpretation and Translation – How We Understand the Bible

How one understands the Bible connects to three different doctrines.

  • Illumination: Understanding the Bible and what it teaches comes from the work of the Holy Spirit, who teaches believers what the Bible says as well as how it practically applies (1 Corinthians 2:10–13).
  • Interpretation: The science and art of biblical interpretation is called hermeneutics. There are a variety of philosophies for interpretation. The one most often applied by those who affirm inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of scripture is the grammatical-historical method. This method attempts to understand the bible in the context in which it was written by looking at the original languages and cultures of the Bible, then gleaning the timeless principles from the text, and then applying them current context (2 Peter 1:19-20).
  • Translation: Most Christians cannot read the original languages of the Bible so they rely on translation. The art and science of biblical translation is part interpretation. The most widely used method for translating scripture is to translate the scriptures from the original languages in to a target language. This requires that the translator learn the original languages of the bible and also the target language, then apply a translation philosophy to the process. The translation philosophies vary between word-for-word translations to paraphrases.