The Internal Evidence of Inerrancy, Part 1


By Bob Courtney

Like many other pastors in our fellowship, I spent several years studying at a Bible institution. Many times, as a young man in my late teens, I encountered theological issues in the classroom that were over my head or had very little interest to me. I did not understand the importance of teaching on canonicity, higher criticism, inspiration, or inerrancy. I figured that those who argue for such things were people of academics and it seemed that there was no reason for a future pastor to know them. Today, I smile at my own ignorance and choose not to disclose my quiz scores from those days.

The Lord has graciously and mercifully allowed me to grow up in my understanding of His Word, not just in the content, but also in its character and value. Over thirty-three years of pastoral ministry, I was trained in the importance of the Sword. Perhaps the greatest lessons I have learned are in regard to the authority of the Scriptures.

No doubt you have been in the counseling office, looking across the desk as a church member who has made a poor decision in their life. I recall vividly addressing a particular sin that was driving one to follow a path applauded by the culture we are in. In the midst of the conversation, while I pleaded with them for a correct response, the argument came back to me that I could not possibly understand their situation because I have never experienced it. My response was quick, I did not need the experience to know what God has said about it in His Word.

On another occasion, I had been invited to lunch by an individual who had begun to visit our church. At the table, he started to share things that impressed him about religion. At first, there were many things we seemed to have in common. However, as he progressed, I began to hear his words take a turn toward teachings unknown to me. I listened intently but did not reply. Mentally I was logging the words he shared in my mind for future study. Our conversation ended with plans to meet the following week for lunch again.

As I arrived in my office, I quickly pulled down a few reference books to track down what I had heard. It did not take long to find the exact fit in a chapter of Walter Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults. I dedicated the week to learning what the Bible had to say in contrast to the words I had heard at lunch. I prepared for our second visit without knowing the surprise of his other guest at the lunch table. He had brought in one of their significant teachers. Their goal, as I later learned, was to convert this young pastor into one of their own. As this teacher began to tell me the main points of their beliefs, I was turning in my Bible to the passage that showed their words to be incorrect. With each point refuted by the Word, he would move to a second and third point, only to have them corrected in Scripture as well. I felt like I was in the fight of my life as I fended off the false teaching by simply quoting from the Bible.

After quite a while, the teacher was thumping the cover of a small New Testament he had brought along but never opened. He grew quite angry and suddenly stood up and left the table. The man who brought him got up as well and followed him out the door. Honestly, I was exhausted but rejoicing on the inside. I thanked the Lord for giving me such a powerful weapon to encounter and refute false teaching. If I had not come to believe in the truth and authority of Scripture, I would have been a casualty in the ministry.

I heard a quote attributed to Vance Havner, Charles Spurgeon, and perhaps even St Augustine. Whoever said it, spoke well, “The Bible is like a lion. You do not need to defend it, just let it out of its cage.” In Hebrews 4:12, Scripture itself makes its claim that it is the Word of God, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword….”

The history of IFCA International has shown the early battles of modernist and fundamentalist were over the nature of the Bible. Truth and ministry were on the battlefield in the years leading up to the 1920s. James O. Henry’s history of the IFCA, For Such a Time as This, revealed what was at stake.

The result of this modernistic trend produced devastating results in Protestantism. Modernism felt it must present the gospel in such a way as not to offend the scientific mind. Natural sin gave way to a naturalism and miracles were ruled out. The virgin birth of Christ was looked upon as an incredible thing. Biblical regeneration was reduced to what could be called religious education. The belief in the supernatural return of Christ gave way to utopian dreams of the perfect society through the works of man. The theory of evolution became, for the modernists, the law of the inevitable progress of the human race. To them, the triumph of modern science gave man unlimited confidence in his own power. The myth that education could solve man’s problems was widely held and propagated. Modernism was utopian in spirit, and as yet, it was unchastened and unchallenged by the judgment of history. Modernism quickly penetrated the strongholds of traditional orthodoxy, capturing most of the older theological seminaries. This conquest began with a plea for ‘inclusiveness’ or ‘broadmindedness’ and ended with the fundamentalist being excluded from the seminaries they had built and endowed. To the modernist, the term ‘broadminded’ meant their view was correct, and those who refused to agree with them were usually thrown out. The gross neglect of doctrine led eventually to its abandonment.1

Yet, the Word of God was not abandoned by the fundamentalists of that day. They fought and spoke from the authority of God’s Word and eventually shaped the fellowship that we now enjoy. Yet, the battle is far from over. Each week we enter pulpits and declare that the message we bring has the authority of God’s own Word. We counter the powerful movements of social and cultural concepts that have invaded the lives of those to whom we minister.

I see the description of the last centuries to reflect the description of this era as well.

“Biblical ‘criticism’ was responsible for reshaping the views of many religious leaders during the last half of the 19th and the first quarter of the 20th centuries. The scriptural records were seen to be only the work of human beings in an ancient civilization. Whether the Bible ‘was’ or ‘contained’ the Word of God became an open question for the clergy of that day.”2


1 James O. Henry, For Such a Time as This, (Westchester, IL: The Independent Fundamental Churches of America, 1983), 14-15.

2 Ibid., 17.

Dr. Robert Courtney is the Pastor of Hillsdale Bible Church (Hillsdale, OK) and President of Doulos Language and Bible Institute.