Theology Thursday: What is the relationship between infallibility and authority?
Updated: Nov 23, 2019
Today’s question was something that really came alive before I started my counseling training. In those early years after we got married, when Joel and I were really struggling to make our relationship work well, we went to a church that was well-respected in our area for counseling. I remember walking in for the first session on a snowy afternoon and the receptionist gave us a stack of forms to sign before we started. One of them had to do with the authority of Scripture. It said (something to the effect of), “If you are given counsel from God’s Word that advises you to change something in your life, are you willing to make those changes?” I had always thought the Bible had authority….but to be asked to actually sign something now that said I agreed that I would let the Bible show me where I was wrong and then do something about it? I mean, that’s the whole point, right? But it was something totally different to sign a document that said I would.
What is the relationship between infallibility and authority?
Authority “means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.” The Bible claims this for itself (2 Tim. 3:16; Num. 22:38; Jer. 1:9; 2 Pet. 1:21; et al.). The Holy Spirit confirms this as one reads the Bible (Jn. 10:27). The key idea with authority is that disobedience to the Word of God is commensurate to rebellion against God Himself.
Infallibility is the teaching that everything in Scripture (as it was originally written) is completely true (Ps. 12:6; 119:96). The objections to infallibility greatly affect the teaching of sufficiency, “We cannot add to God’s words or take away from them, for all are part of his larger purpose in speaking to us.” Thus, one can see that one demonstrates the denial of infallibility when one looks outside the Scriptures, believing it is insufficient for matters of the heart.
The two principles are inextricably related because God’s Word has the authority to order or demand certain things from each of us. The beauty is that it is also infallible. So, as one reads the commands of the Bible and ponders whether to follow them, he can, with confidence, be assured that he is walking in the right path when he follows the clear-cut principles of God’s Word. That is unlike any other instruction or counsel available to man.
What about you? Have you ever had to make any changes in your life after reading the Bible?
 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999], 33.
 Ibid., 44.