One of the first challenges the Christian faces relates to his acceptance of the Bible as the supreme authority - the only inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God which provides the frame of reference for all that he knows and believes and on the basis of which he could order his behaviour.  Any apologetic that is undertaken must therefore include a defence of the utter trustworthiness of Scripture as originally given in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. It was that prince of preachers, C.H. Spurgeon who said, 'Defend the Bible I would rather defend a lion!'

We are not undertaking this apologetic as if the Bible needed our nervous defence for its survival! Rather, it will be right and proper to establish that belief in the Bible as the authoritative Word of God can be held with complete intellectual integrity and such a belief does not involve denigration of the intellect which is part of the imago dei in humankind.

The issue of the authority of Scripture has been engaging the attention of the Church for the last 2000 years. The attacks on the Bible have come from without and within the Church. There have been philosophers who have pooh-poohed the idea of a human book which could be divine at the same time. There have been emperors and kings who had vowed to extinguish its memory from the face of the planet. There have been theologians who have patronisingly conceded that the Bible contained the Word of God but in itself was not that Word.

Setting the Terms for Debate

It will be good to have certain terms simply defined which we are likely to encounter frequently in the course of this essay:

1. INSPIRATION is the activity of God's Spirit whereby He superintends the human authors of Scripture so that their writings become transcripts of God's Word to man.

2. INFALLIBILITY is the quality of neither misleading or being misled. Holy Scripture is a sure, safe and reliable guide in all matters. It is not likely to be deceived or mistaken.

3. INERRANCY is the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted, is entirely true and never false in all that it affirms - whether in relation to doctrine, ethics or to the social, physical or life sciences.