On October 26, 1978, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy sponsored a conference in the Marriott Hotel at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Over 300 distinguished evangelical Christian leaders representing 38 denominations gathered to draft a statement on the inerrancy of Scripture. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of that historic document.
The statement was not developed to establish the truth of the Bible’s inerrancy but, rather, to affirm it. Evangelical leaders agreed that a position paper was needed to declare their unified position that the Bible is free from error, that it is the Word of God once delivered to the saints through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it is the authority by which our lives are to be lived.
The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian church in this and every age.
Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God’s written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.
The statement was produced during a decade when authority was questioned, when mainline denominations questioned events (especially the miraculous) in Scripture, and some were condoning abortion.
Following the Preface and preceding the 17 Articles of Affirmation and Denial, “A Short Statement” expressed the essential foundations for the articles.
- God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
- Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
- The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
- Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
- The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
Among the pastors and Bible scholars who attended and signed the Chicago Statement were D. James Kennedy, Adrian Rogers, R.C. Sproul, Henry M. Morris, J.I. Packer, Luis Pulau, Bill Bright, Jay E. Adams, Frank Gaebelein, Gleason Archer, Josh McDowell, Howard Hendricks, John MacArthur, Francis Schaeffer, Charles Ryrie, W.A. Criswell, John C. Whitcomb, Duane Gish, Carl F. H. Henry, and Norman Geisler.
GFA was established one year later but we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Chicago Statement in its unabashed and unapologetic affirmation of the inerrancy of the Bible.
Our statement of faith regards the inerrancy of the Bible as fundamental to all other understanding of the Lord and His will for our lives. The very first paragraph of what “We Believe” says:
The Bible is the verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God. It is the complete revelation of His will for salvation and the only unfailing rule of faith and practice for the Christian life.
- Christian Headlines, The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy: The Legacy of an Evangelical Milestone
- The Bible Researcher, Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy with Exposition
- 5 Minutes in Church History, The Chicago Statement
- Got Questions, What is the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy?