Day one of the Inerrancy Summit kicked off with an opening address from John MacArthur. He began by reminiscing about the meetings that led up to the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. In an ironic turn of events, John left those meetings—where the Word of God was faithfully exalted—only to fly back to California sitting next to Robert Schuller, a well-known televangelist and one of the fathers of the seeker-sensitive movement. During the flight, Schuller told him, “I can say I believe the Bible and make those words mean anything I want them to mean.” That attitude and approach to Scripture sums up the need for this event.
John said he was prompted to convene the summit because more than a generation of church leaders have grown up and entered ministry without having ever fought the battle for inerrancy, and because perspectives like Schuller’s now permeate the church.
He then highlighted four reasons why the inerrancy of Scripture is worth fighting for. The first was that Scripture is under attack, and we are called to defend it. Satan’s primary goal is always to get people to question the truth of God’s Word, and today many of those attacks on the truth come from inside the church (fulfilling Paul’s words in Acts 20:29-30). John traced the many philosophical and sociological threats that have assaulted the authority of Scripture throughout the history of the church, showing how the consistent effort of spiritual terrorists is to undermine the veracity, authority, and inerrancy of God’s Word.
Next, John highlighted the authoritative nature of Scripture—that it is inextricably tied to God’s perfect and righteous character. Just as the Lord cannot be divided, nullified, or broken, neither can His Word. Scripture is clear about its own authority and inerrancy, and about our duty to declare it.
The third reason relates to declaring the truth—Scripture is completely accurate and we need to faithfully demonstrate its accuracy. In every detail, and often well in advance of scientific discovery, the Bible speaks with authority and accuracy about the nature of God’s creation. The same is true of Scripture’s prophecies—what God’s Word foretold long ago can now be verified as historical fact. God’s people can speak with bold confidence that His Word stands up to any test of its accuracy.
Finally, John explained the fourth reason that inerrancy is worth fighting for—the Bible is active and believers need to faithfully deploy it to do its work. Scripture is not a static book; it’s not a stale compilation of ancient truth. It’s living and active (Hebrews 4:12), and it transforms, sanctifies, edifies, instructs, and comforts believers. He said, “Lots of books can change your thinking, but only one can change your nature and your destiny.” He reminded the thousands of pastors and church leaders gathered together that no one can be saved without the gospel—it’s not the skill of the sower but the power of the seed and the preparation of the soil.
Ultimately, the Holy Spirit’s power is unleashed through the faithful and accurate preaching of the Word. That’s what is at stake in the fight for inerrancy, and that’s why it matters at every level in the work of the church.
The second speaker of the morning was Alistair Begg. His sermon was a strong charge to pastors and church leaders, echoing Paul’s charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-5. He highlighted the importance of Paul’s charge and challenge to Timothy, and the character of a faithful minister of God’s Word. He said, “The real challenge is not that we stop believing the Bible, but that we stop using it. . . . Silly illustrations and superficial worship do not set the stage for the gospel.” His message was a clear call to faithfully preach and teach the truth of Scripture.
He began with this extended quote from Spurgeon:
A great many learned men are defending the gospel; no doubt it is a very proper and right thing to do, yet I always notice that, when there are most books of that kind, it is because the gospel itself is not being preached. Suppose a number of persons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grown king of beasts! There he is in the cage, and here come all the soldiers of the army to fight for him. Well, I should suggest to them, if they would not object, and feel that it was humbling to them, that they should kindly stand back, and open the door, and let the lion out! I believe that would be the best way of defending him, for he would take care of himself; and the best “apology” for the gospel is to let the gospel out. Never mind about defending Deuteronomy or the whole of the Pentateuch; preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. Let the Lion out, and see who will dare to approach him. The Lion of the tribe of Judah will soon drive away all his adversaries.