R. C. Sproul Fails to Defend the Inerrancy of the Bible with His Classical Method

April 2015

At the March 2015 Shepherds’ Conference at Grace Community Church in Southern California, where John MacArthur is Pastor, R. C. Sproul gave the lecture “Defending the Doctrine of Inerrancy.” After rejecting the presuppositional method mistakenly as circular reasoning, instead of axiomatic reasoning or reasoning from first principles (deduction), he goes on to present his Classical method starting with his first premise, the general reliability of the Bible as an historical source. The first problem is, If the Bible is “generally reliable” then at some point it must be unreliable. How is this more Biblical, more reasonable than the presupposition, The Bible alone is the Word of God? Is the Bible what it claims to be or is it not? Is the inerrancy of the Bible something to be defended or proclaimed? Both Gordon Clark and John Robbins have shown the fallacies and the un-Biblical nature of the Classical Method of apologetics. I urge you to read the following articles: “Comical Apologetics” by Robbins, “Classical Apologetics” by Clark, “A Lie in My Right Hand: Idolatry and Empirical Apologetics” by Robbins, and for the Biblical method “The Apologetics of Jesus and Paul” by Robbins. Also recommended is Robert L. Reymond’s chapters, “Faith’s Reasons for Believing the Bible is God’s Word,” “Faith’s Reasons for Rejecting Evidentialism: A Case Study in Apologetic Methodology,” “Faith’s Reasons for Believing the Bible Is Man’s Only PouSto for Knowledge and Personal Significance,” “Faith’s Reasons for Believing in the Nature of Biblical Truth,” and “Faith’s Reasons for Believing in the Pauline Apologetic for Reaching This Postmodern Generation”in Faith’s Reasons for Believing: An Apologetic Antidote to Mindless Christianity (Christian Focus Publications, Mentor Imprint, 2008). Then watch the video and see if Sproul succeeds where he thinks Clark and others have failed.


Sproul’s first premise goes against the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy in its exposition of inerrancy: “Similarly, inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions” (6, emphasis added in bold to show the universals, as opposed to the “general reliability” that Sproul suggests. Ironically, Sproul himself is a former president of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy). Compare Sproul’s first premise also with the conclusion of the Chicago Statement:


"We are conscious too that great and grave confusion results from ceasing to maintain the total truth of the Bible whose authority one professes to acknowledge. The result of taking this step is that the Bible which God gave loses its authority, and what has authority instead is a Bible reduced in content according to the demands of one's critical reasonings and in principle reducible still further once one has started. This means that at bottom independent reason now has authority, as opposed to Scriptural teaching. If this is not seen and if for the time being basic evangelical doctrines are still held, persons denying the full truth of Scripture may claim an evangelical identity while methodologically they have moved away from the evangelical principle of knowledge to an unstable subjectivism, and will find it hard not to move further."


Further, Sproul’s first premise is not in line with Chapter 1 “Of Holy Scripture” of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Either the Bible is self-authenticating or there is a higher authority than the Bible. More aptly proclaimed and defended is the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible by Clark, Robbins, and Reymond and their Scriptural method, than by Sproul and his Classical method.