L.T. Jeyachandran hails from Tamil Nadu in South India. He graduated from PSG College of Technology, affiliated with University of Madras (Chennai), and later received a Master of Technology degree in Structural Engineering from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai. L.T. worked in several parts of India for 28 years as a Senior Civil Engineer with the Central (Federal) Government. The last position he held was that of Chief Engineer in charge of 13 states of India in the Eastern Zone while based in the city of Calcutta.
L.T. discovered the meaning of new life in Christ Jesus during his undergraduate college days. He has been involved in preaching the Gospel in conferences and is well known as a Bible expositor. He is a keen student of theology and comparative religions, and also interested in the study of Indian and foreign languages. He is knowledgeable in both Hebrew and Greek and is thus able to handle Scripture effectively in his ministry.
He took early retirement from the Government in November 1993 to join Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in India and functioned as Director of Ministries there till December 2000. In that capacity, he had been training leaders in seminars for Christians and conducting open forums for people from other faiths. He also served as a Bible teacher for RZIM and other conferences.
Since January 2001, L.T. has been working as Executive Director of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (Asia-Pacific) office overseeing the ministry in that region. He is based in Singapore with his wife, Esther. They have two children, Preeti and Pranay. Preeti and her husband David live and work in Dhaka, Bangladesh with Oasis Transformation. They have a daughter, Alisha, and a son, Ashray. Pranay and his wife Vani live outside of London, England, where Pranay works as a market research executive. They have two daughters, Manarah and Ameiyah.
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.
At the outset, I have deliberately chosen to dwell on the theological and philosophical underpinnings of the doctrines of inspiration and infallibility of Scripture. We normally tend to plunge directly into the task of reconciling anomalies in the Bible or defending it against charges of inaccuracy in historical and scientific matters. We would however do well to first establish the reasonability of this belief on the basis of agreed parameters.
If I believe in the reasonability of the existence of the Triune, Infinite-Personal Creator-God, such a Being would be infinitely virtuous, the crowning attribute being love, which exemplifies every dimension of His eternal holiness. This love is objectified by communication - in Christian Theology, we could legitimately speak of the love of God the Father for God the Son (Jn.17:24) - without which there can be no actualisation of it. This love will, at best, remain potential. But God, as the Infinite One, cannot have potentiality in any of His attributes because that would make Him susceptible to change. He therefore fully actualises it in the mysterious relationship of the Trinity.
One of the many shining examples that can be found in the Gospels is Jesus' repeated insistence in different contexts that all things have been committed to Him by His Father and that the Father and the Son know Each Other exhaustively (Matt.ll:27). This state of affairs comes about only by Divine self-disclosure which is the basis of all genuine communication. (May I digress at this point to say that this divine reality is what sets Christian communication so distinctly apart from all secular communication about which much is made of these days? While the Christian yearns to grapple with the vitals of this communication, his secular counterpart is content to play around with the techniques that form only the outward shell of the subject. It is a tragic irony for the Christian to think that communication, Christian and secular, is basically identical and the difference relates only to the content!
That such a God, if He exists, must communicate can therefore be taken as axiomatic. This communication rightly begins at the creation of the objective universe by the spoken Word (Gen.1), and its continued preservation is also an ongoing Word from an omnipotent God (Heb.l:3). Well can the psalmist say that the heavens are telling us - the tense in the original Hebrew is best translated as present continuous - about the glory of God (Ps.19:1). His creative act is climaxed by the fashioning of the first man made in God's own image, capable of communicating with His Creator, as well as hearing, understanding and obeying His Word to him.
The idea that the Bible is the Word of God arises from this reality of a communicating God desiring to disclose Himself to His special creation. Such an interaction, in and of itself, would constitute the communication from God to man. Thus it is that God's historical choice of a man (Abraham) and his dealings with a nation (Israel) make for the strategy of His communication as seen from the voluminous history in Scripture.
An important part of the Divine image in humans is the capacity to speak. God's Word, in order to be objective and verifiable has to be verbal. All other non-formal types of communication, though more important and in some cases more expressive, cannot serve the purpose of objectivity which needs to be hallmark of God's unchanging communication with mankind. The objectivity of God's communication is rightly underpinned by the creation of the external universe by the spoken Word. It is not surprising that the Bible should open with the majestic account of creation!
The possibility of an inerrant Bible has its roots in the character of the immutable and inerrant God of communication. What would be the medium that God could choose for such a self-disclosure? If God were to let frail and fallible humans perceive Him and pen their thoughts about Him, error on their part cannot be ruled out. On the other hand, if God were to communicate in an entirely divine mode, humans would be incapable of understanding it. (In fact, the Scriptures of Hinduism and related religions are believed to belong to the former category and the Qur'an decidedly is held to belong to the latter). The only reasonable third option would be a medium which is Divine-human in which human language is employed under Divine superintendence. We do not subscribe to the doctrine of dictation of Scripture by God, by manipulating or obliterating the human dimension, nor do we believe that the authors were totally free to choose their own mode of expressing the divine input, God in no way assuming responsibility for the quality of the eventual product. This mysterious coincidence of the human and the Divine is made possible on account of two reasons:
1. Man is made in the image of God and thus Divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive categories. God could choose to condescend and speak in human terms without the inevitability of error in the communication. In Schaeffer's words, He can speak to humankind truly, though not exhaustively.
2. The agency of the Holy Spirit is crucial in the communication - He can so operate through human authors without depriving Scripture of its humanness (II Pet.1:21). Jesus could therefore underline this combination in Matt.22:43 - "David, speaking by the Spirit, ..."
But then this communication from God - His self-revelation - had to be made permanent so that it could be passed on to posterity without distortion. The inscription of God's Word was a legitimate precaution against accretions through oral traditions. Gen. 5:1 employs the Hebrew word 'sepher' which is well translated in the NIV as 'written account'. It appears that records were available to Moses from which he could compile the genealogies of his ancestors. Even in Moses' own time, God had commanded him to record crucial events in 'THE scroll' (Ex.l7:14 - the Hebrew employs the definite article!) The writing down of historical occurrences and prophetic utterances are a familiar sight to one conversant with the Bible.
We are now ready to establish the Inspiration and Inerrancy of the Scriptures on the basis of the reliability of the New Testament Documents which, in turn, speak definitively about the Deity of the Person of Jesus Christ. Through His statements, the case can strongly be made out for the Bible being the inspired Word of God. Revelation from God can be taken to be inerrant. Inspiration will thus guarantee inerrancy.
A suggested syllogism will run thus:
(1) NT Documents are historically reliable and its authors are honest;
(2) NT witnesses that Jesus Christ is God;
(3) Jesus Christ (in the NT) witnesses that OT & NT are the inspired word of God;
(4) Therefore, both OT & NT are the inspired word of God.
1. Reliability of New Testament Documents
Since the eye-witness accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Christ come from primary source documents, these must be shown to be reliable. The historical reliability of the NT should be tested by the same criteria to which all historical documents are subjected. Three tests for reliability of a document are given below: The bibliographical test, the internal test and the external test
The Bibliographical test: It is seen that the documents under examination are reliable both in terms of the number of manuscripts available for verification as well as the time lapse between the event (as well as the first manuscript) and the oldest extant manuscript. The following chart will demonstrate that the NT is happily placed:
TIME SPAN YEARS
NO. OF COPIES
AD 125, one as early as AD 70
The internal evidence test: John W. Montgomery says, "One must listen to the claims of the documents under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualifies himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies". In the NT, no contradictions have been proven. Many alleged contradictions have been cleared up by archaeology. One important point is that the NT was written by eye witnesses (Lk.l:l-3; Acts 3:15, II Pet.l:16, IJn.l:3). Their testimony came under the most stringent scrutiny by their severest critics.
The external evidence test: History and archaeology have externally confirmed the authenticity of the NT documents.
The following secular historians from the 1st century confirm the general outline of the NT: Josephus' (AD 37-100) "The Antiquities"; Tacitus' (AD 52-54) "The Annals"; Pliny the Younger (AD 112) "Epistle"; Thallus' (AD 52) "Jewish Talmud" (AD 500); and Suetonius' (AD 120) "Life of Claudius."
Combining the testimonies of these historians, the following picture of Christ emerges which matches the NT narrative: Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate at passover time. He was believed by his disciples to have risen from the dead 3 days later. Jewish leaders charged Christ with sorcery and believed that He was born illegitimately. The sect of Christianity could not be contained - it spread even to Rome. Nero and other Roman rulers bitterly persecuted -and martyred early Christians. These early Christians denied polytheism) lived dedicated lives according to Christ's teachings and worshipped Him.
Numerous archaeological discoveries also support the specific details of the NT account.
2. Integrity of New Testament Authors
Everything that is known about the apostles testifies to their honesty and integrity. They were proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus within weeks of the event, and if they had been lying, they could have been easily exposed by their testimony under extreme persecution even to the detractors. They remained steadfast in their point of martyrdom, which was a widespread phenomenon in the first century. It is only reasonable to argue for the honesty of these writers - men could be expected to die for what they believe to be true, but they would never die for what they know to be false.
3. The Case for the Deity of Christ
If the NT documents can be established as credible and that the authors are honest, then we can conclude that we have an accurate record of the events and the claims that Jesus Christ made about Himself and others. The testimonies found in these documents point to the fact that Jesus was God Himself. There are four aspects to this conclusion: Jesus' own testimony that He was God (Jn.l0:30); testimony of the disciples that He was God (Tit.2:13); testimony of NT Scripture to His divinity (Col.2:9); and the substantiation of Christ's claim to be God through prophetic fulfillment, miraculous deeds and the resurrection from the dead.
As Norman Geisler says "On the basis of the historical reliability of the NT, we can be sure that we possess the essence of the teachings of Christ about Himself. In view of the messianic prophecies Jesus fulfilled, the titles of Deity He applied to Himself, the worship He accepted, as well as the other claims to Deity He made, we must conclude that Jesus thought of Himself as God-incarnate in human form. An examination of His disciples' beliefs about Him reveals that they too taught that He was equal with and identical to God."
4. Inspiration of the Old and New Testaments
Jesus confirmed the authority of the OT and He promised the inspiration of the NT.
Jesus often referred to the authoritative writings of the OT as The Scriptures (Jn.l0.35). He established God's Word as the standard of Truth (Matt.4:4,7,10; Jn.l7:17). Humans could err but Scripture did not (Matt.22:29). Jesus also claimed that the Law and the Prophets would never pass away (Matt.5:17). In short, the written words of the OT books were considered by Jesus to be God's Word.
Jesus Christ is also the fulfillment of all things. He promised to guide His disciples into all truth. The books of the NT fulfill that promise.
Jesus Christ climaxed His life by the statement, "It is finished!" (Jn.l9:30).
Jesus promised His disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit who would "teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you" (Jn.l4:26; 16:13).
The 27 books of the NT fulfil this promise. The NT books have been passed down from the apostles. With the apostolic writings, the Canon of the Scripture was complete. John, the last of the apostles to die seemed to recognise that he was completing the Canon of Scripture (Rev.22:18,19).