This is the first of a series of three blogs in which I will be considering the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. I would normally begin by arguing from the testimony of Jesus and the Scriptures themselves as to their own infallibility. Indeed, that has been the common approach among scholars who defend the inspiration and authority of the Bible in the past.
However, due to a recent approach in the assault against inerrancy, I felt the need to begin by citing the position of the Early Church Fathers, as well as other prominent figures throughout Church History, on the subject of inerrancy.
Towards the end of the 19th century, two prominent Princeton scholars, A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield, earnestly defended the doctrine of inerrancy against the rise of Liberal higher critics who, through the influence of Modernism, sought to discredit all things supernatural, including the divine inspiration of the sacred text. In response to their defense of inerrancy, the 1923 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church claimed that inerrancy was invented by the Princeton scholars. This claim gained widespread acceptance among the Neo-Orthodox and Progressives beginning in 1979 with the publication of the book, “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach,” coauthored by Jack Rogers of Fuller Seminary) and Donald McKim of Dubuque Theological Seminary.
However, as will be seen in the following quotes, this claim is demonstrably false and calls into question the intellectual integrity of those scholars who knowingly promoted such revisionist statements concerning the historic position of the Church on this all-important subject.
The Early Fathers were defending the authority and inerrancy of the Scriptures against the Gnostics and other heretics such as Celsus and Porphyry who attacked the Scriptures much as do modern-day skeptics like Bart Ehrman and Richard Dawkins. As a result of this, there is a great abundance of affirmations concerning the inerrancy of Scripture in their writings. However, for brevity, I will only cite and briefly comment on a few leading voices within the Church throughout its history. The few I cite here will more than adequately demonstrate that the allegation that the concept of biblical inerrancy was a recent invention of Benjamin Warfield and A. A. Hodge a little over a century ago is false.
The Early Church
Clement of Rome (35 - 99AD) Clement of Rome, who became the bishop of Rome right after Paul and Peter’s martyrdom, is the nearest in time to the Apostles and the completion of the New Testament and so his view of inspiration most likely reflects that of the Apostles. He said:
“Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them.” 
At this early date we see that the Apostolic Fathers considered the Scriptures to have been the infallible utterances of the Holy Spirit, speaking through its human authors. In saying nothing in Scripture is “counterfeit” (Gr. parapepoimenon), it is evident that he considered the Scriptures to be inerrant.
Justin Martyr (100 – 165AD ), recognizing the divine source of Scripture, does not allow for any real contradictions in Scripture. He said:
“since I am entirely convinced that no Scripture contradicts another, I shall admit rather that I do not understand what is recorded, and shall strive to persuade those who imagine that the Scriptures are contradictory, to be rather of the same opinion as myself.” 
Those who today deny inerrancy do so based upon perceived errors and contradictions within the Scriptures. In contrast to this, Justin Martyr was convinced that the Scriptures were one harmonious whole, without any contradictions. He, as well as the other Early Fathers, compares the process of divine inspiration to that of the Master Musician using the human authors as a musical instrument in such a way as to produce a perfectly harmonious melody. He said:
“For neither by nature nor by human conception is it possible for men to know things so great and divine, but by the gift which then descended from above upon the holy men, who had no need of rhetorical art, nor of uttering anything in a contentious or quarrelsome manner, but to present themselves pure to the energy of the Divine Spirit, in order that the divine plectrum itself, descending from heaven, and using righteous men as an instrument like a harp or lyre, might reveal to us the knowledge of things divine and heavenly.” 
He then further alludes to 2Peter 1:20-21, saying:
“When you hear the utterances of the prophets spoken as it were personally, you must not suppose that they were spoken by the inspired themselves, but by the Divine Word who moves them.” 
This is in agreement with Peter’s words when he said that no prophecy of Scripture is mere men’s interpretations, but rather, holy men of God spoke as they were born-along by the Holy Spirit.
Irenaeus (115–202) in his writings “Against Heresies,” insists that the Scriptures must be regarded as perfect since God Himself is its ultimate author:
“If, however, we cannot discover explanations of all those things in Scripture which are made the subject of investigation, yet let us not on that account seek after any other God besides Him who really exists. For this is the very greatest impiety. We should leave things of that nature to God who created us, being most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit…” 
Certainly, Irenaeus would not have called the Holy Scriptures perfect unless he believed in their inerrancy. To him, arguing that the Scriptures were imperfect, containing error, would be tantamount to attributing error to God Himself, since He was it’s author.
Athenagoras (133–190AD) also presents the Holy Spirit as moving upon the human authors as a musician playing musical instruments to produce a flawless melody. He said:
“It would be irrational for us to cease to believe in the Spirit from God, who moved the mouths of the prophets like musical instruments, and to give heed to mere human opinions.” 
He further describes the process of divine inspiration saying that the human authors were “lifted in ecstasy above the natural operations of their minds by the impulses of the Divine Spirit, uttering the things with which they were inspired, the Spirit making use of them as a flute player.”  To him and the rest of the Fathers it was unthinkable that the Divine Spirit could produce a flawed melody.
Clement of Alexandria (150–215AD) affirms the infallible, verbal, plenary nature of divine inspiration when he says:
“I could adduce ten thousand Scriptures of which not ‘one tittle shall pass away’ without being fulfilled; for the mouth of the Lord the Holy Spirit hath spoken these things.”  He further said that they were an “infallible criterion of faith.” 
Not even the Princetonians Hodge and Warfield could have expressed the doctrine of inerrancy with more specific terms than those used here by Clement.
Origen (184 – 254 AD) says concerning the verbal, plenary nature of inspiration:
“We cannot say of the writings of the Holy Spirit that anything in them is useless or superfluous, even if they seem to some obscure.” 
He further compares the Scriptures to a perfectly tuned musical instrument and says that those who think they contain errors are simply lacking in understanding or unwilling to learn. He says:
“there is in the Divine oracles nothing crooked or perverse, for they are all plain to those who understand… That which appears to others to be a conflict in the Scriptures is no conflict… All the Scripture is the one perfect and harmonized instrument of God, which from different sounds gives forth one saving voice to those willing to learn.” 
Tertullian (160–220), affirms the verbal and plenary nature of the inspiration of Scripture down to the letter when he says:
“The Divine Scripture has made us united in one body; the very letters are our glue.”
This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words when He said that we are to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God and that not one jot not tittle would pass without being fulfilled (Matt 4:4; 5:18).
Caius (180–217) does not spare words in denouncing those who denied the inerrancy of the Scriptures. He said:
“For either they do not believe that the divine Scriptures were dictated by the Holy Spirit, and are thus infidels; or they think themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and what are they then but demoniacs?” 
Athanasius of Alexandria (293–373), speaking out against those who denied the inerrancy of Scripture, expresses himself just as any defender of the infallibility of Scripture would today. He said:
“Now it is the opinion of some, that the Scriptures do not agree together, or that God, who gave the commandment, is false. But there is no disagreement whatever, far from it, neither can the Father, Who is truth, lie.” 
The argument of Athanasius in response to the critics of his day was that, because God Himself is the author of Scripture, it cannot contain any error or real contradictions in that which it affirms.
John Chrysostom (349–407), clearly understood Scripture to be verbally and plenarily inspired, right down to the very syllables, as well as the tenses and moods of its verbs, since its author was the Holy Spirit. He said:
“Let us act so as to interpret everything precisely and instruct you not to pass by even a brief phrase or single syllable contained in the Holy Scriptures. After all they are not simply words, but words of the Holy Spirit, and hence the treasure to be found in even a single syllable is great.”  He further says, “For the Scripture by no means speaks falsely.” 
Commenting of John 12:39-41, Chrysostom refers to the Scriptures as inerrant when he says, “He (Isaiah) desires hence to establish by many proofs the unerring truth of Scripture, and that what Isaiah foretold fell not out otherwise, but as he said.” 
So much for the claim that the doctrine of inerrancy is the recent invention of radical Princetonian Fundamentalists!
Gregory of Nazianzus (329–390AD), widely considered one of the greatest theologians of all time, also defended the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture. He said:
“We, however, who extend the accuracy of the Spirit to the merest stroke and tittle, will never admit to the impious assertion that even the smallest matters were dealt with haphazard by those who have recorded them, and have thus been borne in mind down to the present day.” 
Basil the Great (330–379AD), Contrary to how some today would interpret 2Timothy 3:16, Basil specifically includes the entirety of Scripture, including both the Old and New Testaments, as inspired or God-breathed (θεόπνευστος). He says:
“Never neglect reading, especially of the New Testament... Just so, all Scripture is God inspired and profitable, and there is nothing in it unclean.” 
Gregory of Nyssa (331-395AD) agrees with his brother Basil, saying that the entirety of the Holy Scriptures were God-breathed and therefore inerrant. He says:
“Thus it is by the power of the Spirit that the holy men who are under Divine influence are inspired, and every Scripture is for this reason said to be ‘given by inspiration of God,’ because it is the teaching of the Divine afflatus.” 
Elsewhere he says: “Whatever the Divine Scripture says is the voice of the Holy Spirit.”  And then, “the Scripture does not lie.” 
Jerome (347–420), while notorious for his inconsistency and indecisiveness, nevertheless says:
“I am not, I repeat, so ignorant as to suppose that any of the Lord’s words is either in need of correction or is not divinely inspired.” 
Saying that none of the Lord’s words need correction is just another way of affirming the inerrancy of Scripture.
The Medieval Church
Augustine (354–430AD) Entering into the Medieval period of Church history, beginning with Augustine, we see that they were no less emphatic concerning the divine source and inerrancy of the Scriptures than the Early Fathers. Augustine writes:
“For it seems to me that the most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books: that is to say, that the men by whom the Scripture has been given to us, and committed to writing, did put down in these books anything false… For if you once admit into such a high sanctuary of authority one false statement… there will not be left a single sentence of those books which, if appearing to any one difficult in practice or hard to believe, may not by the same fatal rule be explained away, as a statement in which, intentionally,...the author declared what was not true.” 
Elsewhere he writes:
“For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honor only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.” 
“the authority of the Divine Scriptures becomes unsettled (so that every one may believe what he wishes, and reject what he does not wish) if this be once admitted, that the men by whom these things have been delivered unto us, could in their writings state some things which were not true…” 
Clearly, if Augustine was convinced that the human authors, being under divine inspiration, were incapable of writing things which were not true, he believed in the inerrancy of the Scriptures.
Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) states that any perceived error in the Holy Scriptures is in fact an error of his own understanding of them rather than an error in the Scriptures themselves. He said:
“For I am sure that, if I say anything which is undoubtedly contradictory to Holy Scripture, it is wrong; and, if I become aware of such a contradiction, I do not wish to hold to that opinion.” 
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) Article two of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states: “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.” This is in agreement with what Thomas Aquinas affirmed, as can be seen in the following quotes:
“It is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Writ.” 
“other disciplines derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason, which can err, whereas theology derives its certitude from the light of the divine knowledge, which cannot be misled.” 
The Reformation Church
Martin Luther (1483–1546), Contrary to what some would affirm, Martin Luther also clearly believed in the inerrancy of Scripture. He said that the Scriptures “never erred” and “cannot err.”  In other words, the Scriptures are both inerrant (do not err), and infallible (cannot err). That is no different from what present-day Conservative Christians affirm. The following quotes further substantiate his firm belief in inerrancy:
“But everyone, indeed, knows that at times they [the Fathers] have erred as men will; therefore I am ready to trust them only when they prove their opinions from Scripture, which has never erred.” 
“It is impossible that Scripture should contradict itself, only that it so appears to the senseless and obstinate hypocrites.” 
“Whoever is so bold that he ventures to accuse God of fraud and deception in a single word and does so willfully again and again after he has been warned and instructed once or twice will likewise certainly venture to accuse God of fraud and deception in all of His words. Therefore it is true, absolutely and without exception, that everything is believed or nothing is believed. The Holy Spirit does not suffer Himself to be separated or divided so that He should teach and cause to be believed one doctrine rightly and another falsely.” 
“One little point of doctrine means more than heaven and earth, and therefore we cannot suffer to have the least jot thereof violated.” 
“For it is established by God’s Word that God does not lie, nor does His word lie.” 
While he recognized that there were difficult texts that he had no explanation for, his confidence in the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word was unwavering.
John Calvin (1509–1564), Contrary to the nuanced approaches to inspiration presented by Progressives who ironically claim to affirm “inerrancy” while at the same time denying it, Calvin stands firm in his conviction that the Old Testament is not the mere words of Moses and the Prophets, but the very words of God Himself. Commenting on 2 Timothy 3:16, he says:
“…we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that tine Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.
Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spake…
Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all… We owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.” 
Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575), lastly, the Swiss Reformer and successor of Zwingli is in agreement with the Church throughout all its history concerning the inerrancy of Scripture when he says:
“all the words of God are true, steadfast, and undoubted. For heaven and earth shall pass away, but the eternal word of God shall never perish, nor shall one jot or title fall from it.” 
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892):
I would like to cite one final quote by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, since he ministered in the generation just prior to the Princetonians A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield, whom the critics of inerrancy claim to have been the inventors of the doctrine. Spurgeon says concerning the inerrancy of the Bible:
“I believe that there is no mistake whatever in the original Holy Scriptures from beginning to end. There may be, and there are, mistakes of translation; for translators are not inspired; but even the historical facts are correct. Doubt has been cast upon them here and there, and at times with great show of reason—doubt which it has been impossible to meet for a season; but only give space enough, and search enough, and the stones buried in the earth cry out to confirm each letter of Scripture. Old manuscripts, coins, and inscriptions, are on the side of the Book, and against it there are nothing but theories, and the fact that many an event in history has no other record but that which the Book affords us. The Book has been of late in the furnace of criticism; but much of that furnace has grown cold from the fact that the criticism is beneath contempt. ‘The words of the Lord are pure words’: there is not an error of any sort in the whole compass of them. These words come from him who can make no mistake, and who can have no wish to deceive his creatures. If I did not believe in the infallibility of the Book, I would rather be without it. If I am to judge the Book, it is no judge of me. If I am to sift it, like the heap on the threshing-floor, and lay this aside and only accept that, according to my own judgment, then I have no guidance whatever, unless I have conceit enough to trust to my own heart. The new theory denies infallibility to the words of God, but practically imputes it to the judgments of men; at least, this is all the infallibility which they can get at. I protest that I will rather risk my soul with a guide inspired from heaven, than with the differing leaders who arise from the earth at the call of “modern thought.” 
So according to Spurgeon, and history bears him witness, what is actually a “new theory” is not the doctrine of inerrancy, but the denial of the infallibility of the Scriptures. We have already seen abundant testimony that, all through history, the Church has unanimously held to the inerrancy of the Scriptures until recent times.
Paul actually saw our day and forewarned us, saying:
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim 4:2-5)
Jude enjoins us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3). The faith once and for all delivered to the saints is that body of truth which we have contained in the Holy Scriptures. Paul foresaw our day and warned us, saying:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1Tim 4:1-2)
Paul said that some false teachers would speak lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared. This, to me, is an apt description of those scholars in our day who have made the false claim that inerrancy is a new invention. I am taken aback by the degree of intellectual dishonesty that would be required in order to meticulously comb through all the writings of the Church Fathers, passing over all of their clear affirmations of the inerrancy of Scripture, in their search of a few scant quotes which could be misconstrued as implying that they did not believe what they most adamantly affirm throughout all their writings.
Whatever one’s view concerning the inerrancy of Scripture, it is outright deception to try to gain an advantage against those of us who uphold the Scripture’s own testimony concerning itself by falsely claiming that the doctrine of inerrancy is a new doctrine.
Having demonstrated this common presenting argument against inerrancy to be false, in the next blog we will see why the Church Fathers unanimously believed in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, and consider in what manner they were inspired of the Holy Spirit.
 1 Clement 45:3
 Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, LXV in Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 1:230
 Horatory Address to the Greeks, VIII in ibid., 276.
 The First Apology, XXXVI in ibid., 175.
 Against Heresies, II.XXVIII.2 in ibid., 399. See also III.V.1, 417.
 A Plea for Christians, VII in Ante-Nicene Fathers, 2:132.
 Ibid., IX, 133.
 Exhortation to the Heathen, IX in ibid., 195.
 Stromata, II.IV in ibid., 349–50.
 Origen, Homily 27. 1.7.
 Origen, book II volume IX, Commentary on Matthew
 On Modesty, V in ibid., 78.
 Fragments, III in Ibid., 5:602.
 Letter XIX.3 in ibid., 546.
 Homily 15.3 in Homilies on Genesis 1–17, translated by Robert C. Hill (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1986), 195.
 “Concerning the Statues,” II.22 in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 9:352.
 Homily LXVIII, in Ibid., 14:252.
 “Orations,” II.105, in Ibid., 7:225.
 Letter XLII.3, in Ibid., 8:145.
 “Against Eunomius,” VII.1, in Ibid., 5:193.
 Our God-Breathed Book, John R. Rice, Sword of the Lord, 2000, 143
 Against Eunomius,” VII.2.
 Epistles, XXVII.1, in Ibid., 6:44.
 Letter XXVIII.3 in Ibid., 1:251–52.
 Letter LXXXII.3 in Ibid., 350
 Letter XXVIII.3 in Ibid., 1:252.
 Why God Became Man, in Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 298.
 The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, part. 1, question 1, article 10 (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1948), 7.
 Ibid., p1.q1.a5, 3.
 Works of Martin Luther (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1968), XV:1481; XIX:1073.
 Ibid., XXXII:11.
 Ibid., IX:650
 D. Martin Luthers Werke: kritische Gesammtausgabe (Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1928), 54:158.
 Works of Martin Luther, IX:650
 Ibid., XX:798
 Calvin’s Commentaries, 2Timothy 3:16.
 “Letter CCCLIII” from 24 August 1554 in Original Letters Relative to the English Reformation, volume 2, edited and translated by Hastings Robinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1847), 750.
 “The Bible Tried and Proved,” preached on 5 May 1889. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1975), 35:253–64.