After affirming the Bible’s holy authorship and holy aim, Article I of Friendship’s statement of faith confesses the Bible’s holy accuracy. The Bible is “a perfect treasure of divine instruction.” It contains “truth, without any mixture of error. … Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.”
The perfect truthfulness of Scripture stems from the absolute truthfulness of God. Remember that 2 Timothy 3:16 claims that Scripture is “God-breathed.” The ultimate divine authorship of Scripture entails that it “is totally true and trustworthy.” The New Testament twice affirms God’s truthfulness. “God … never lies,” Paul says (Titus 1:2). Another early Christian leader similarly says, “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18).
The absolute truthfulness of God is a doctrine also taught by the Old Testament. God comforted the remnant of Israel after the exile, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Mal 3:6). God does not change; therefore, God does not lie. What God says he will do, he does. Without fail, every single time. Balaam, whose intent to prophesy against Israel God overcame repeatedly, rebuked the king who had hired him to prophesy against Israel: “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind” (Num 23:19). Samuel similarly warned Saul, “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret” (1 Sam 15:29). The truthfulness of Scripture proceeds logically from the truthfulness of God:
- God always speaks truthfully.
- God authored Scripture.
- Therefore, Scripture always speaks truthfully.
Theologians refer to the absolute truthfulness of Scripture as the infallibility of Scripture. According to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978): “Infallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters.” This is what the Baptist Faith and Message means by the Bible being true, “without any mixture of error.”
The Baptist Faith and Message further describes Scripture as “totally true and trustworthy.” Both the Old and New Testaments directly attest to the absolute truthfulness of Scripture. Psalm 18:30 contends, “the word of the Lord proves true.” Psalm 19:9 similarly says, “the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.” The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, repeatedly affirms the absolute truthfulness of God’s word in a prayer to God:
- “your law is true” (Ps 119:42)
- “all your commandments are true” (Ps 119:151)
- “The sum of your word is truth” (Ps 119:160)
Jesus twice affirms that Scripture is 100% true. He confronted his opponents, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). He likewise prayed to God, “your word is truth” (John 17:17). Everything Scripture says, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, is true.
What Friendship’s statement of faith describes as the “totally true and trustworthy” nature of Scripture, the Chicago Statement has dubbed inerrancy: “inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions.”
The Baptist Faith and Message rightly begins its confession of faith with Scripture, our ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice. Scripture is our ultimate authority not only because God is its ultimate author but also because it is absolutely true, even as God is absolutely true. In this way, the Baptist Faith and Message models that all good theology must begin with and remain faithful to the Bible.