R.C. Sproul’s Analysis of Methodology In Defense of Biblical Inerrancy

Given below is one of the most cogent arguments for  the authority and inerrancy of the Bible:

The Classical Method
Premise A – The Bible is a basically reliable and trustworthy document.
Premise B – On the basis of this reliable document we have sufficient evidence to believe confidently that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Premise C – Jesus Christ being the Son of God is an infallible authority.
Premise D – Jesus Christ teaches the Bible is more than generally trustworthy: it is the very Word of God.
Premise E – That the word, in that it comes from God, is utterly trustworthy because God is utterly trustworthy.
Conclusion – On the basis of the infallible authority of Jesus Christ, the Church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy, i.e., infallible.

This method does not involve circular reasoning. Circular reasoning occurs when the conclusion is already present in the first premise. The argument itself is not an infallible argument as each premise involves matters of inductive or deductive reasoning by fallible rational creatures. There is neither a formal apriori assumption nor a subjective leap of faith in the method. Rather, the method is involved with careful historical, empirical investigation as well as with logical inferences.

In summary, the Christian’s case for the infallibility rests in the reliable trustworthiness of the Biblical documents which provides knowledge of the infallible Christ. The authority we give to Scripture ought to be no more and no less than that given to them by Christ. The Church cannot submit to the authority of Christ without at the same time submitting to the authority of Scripture.

Obviously, I am not bright enough to be come up this compelling defence of biblical authority and inerrancy. I took it from R.C. Sproul who is arguably the best communicator of the Reformed faith in our times. [R.C. Sproul, “The Case for Inerrancy: A Methodological Analysis,” in God’s Inerrant Word, ed., John Warwick Montgomery (Bethany Fellowship, 1974), pp. 248-249, 259] From the looks of it, the argument presented by Sproul seems coherent with logic and consistent with historical evidence.

There have been acrimonious debates between evidentialist apologists (Sproul and John Gerstner) and presuppositionist apologetics (Van Til, John Frame).* Nevertheless, these contending schools of apologetics share much in common when it comes to how one may apply one’s apologetic methods when witnessing to unbelievers. This explains why someone like me who is sympathetic to “presuppositional” apologetics, is also appreciative of the “evidentialist” apologetics of Sproul.

Sproul once described himself as a “proto-suppositionalist,” that includes utilizing presuppositional argumentation – after the authority of Scripture has been proved by “neutral” argument. Sproul also expressed the need to integrate the evidence into a gestalt or holistic system of thought. John Frame “took that to mean that whatever you think about apologetic method Scripture must always have the final say. I too am a protosuppositionalist. And in the final analysis that’s all there really is to presuppositionalism.”

* See the forceful critique of presuppositional apologetics by R.C. Sproul, John Gertsner & A. Lindsley, Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Zondervan 1984), and the response by John Frame, “Van Til and the Ligonier Apologetic”, in John Frame, Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief. 2nd ed. (Presbyterian & Reformed, 2015), pp. 219-240.

APPENDIX
Tribute to R.C. Sproul’s Passionate & Tough-Minded Preaching
R.C. Sproul did not shrink from expounding the great theological themes of God’s sovereignty and salvation. This is evident from a few titles taken from his numerous publications: “The Holiness of God”, “Chosen by God”, “The Glory of Christ”, “Pleasing God”, “Surprised by Suffering”.

Sproul’s gift was his ability to explain complex theological ideas with simplicity and clarity. More importantly, his teaching is written with passion so that his readers are ushered into the presence of the thrice holy God who elicits reverence and grateful obedience.

Sproul is sometimes dismissed as someone who is only a “popularizer” and not a scholar. But a humble “popularizer” who inspires is no less important than an erudite scholar in building faith. After all, it takes passion to beget passion which in turn begets obedience.

Let us pray that God will raise up theologians who are not only tough-minded, but who are passionate witnesses of the holiness of God and the joy of salvation.

See also Unashamed Allegiance: John Piper’s Tribute to R.C. Sproul (1939–2017)