Historic Southern Baptist Leaders on Scripture Inspiration

We accept the Scriptures as an all-sufficient and infallible rule of faith and practice, and insist upon the absolute inerrancy and sole authority of the word of God.

J. M. Frost
Corresponding Secretary
Baptist Sunday School Board
In Baptist: Why and Why Not
Published by Baptist Sunday School Board (1900)


Those who concede errors In the Scriptures as to matter of fact, in order to remove conflict with some scientific opinions of our time, may tell us that they have great satisfaction in being at peace with science. But there are two drawbacks upon such a peace. It is the peace of sheer submission... And it is only a partial and temporary peace. Other scientific men at once make still further demands, tending ever toward the complete abandonment of the supernatural. If we assume that the inspiration of the Bible as only partial where are we to stop? Every man must then select ad libitum what portions of the Bible's teachings he will accept as true.

John A. Broadus
Professor of New Testament
Interpretation and Homiletics
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-1895


These writers certainly claimed that what they say is of God. To them the inspiration is not just plenary but verbal. They were not left to choose their words promiscuously. Their individuality was preserved, but the words used were given them of God. Not Just the thought came from God, but every word with every inflection. Every verse arid line and even every tense of the verb, every number of the noun, and every little particle they regarded as corning from God and de demanded in the pain of grave disaster that we should preserve it in its entirely.

J. B. Tidwell
Chairman, Bible Department, Baylor University (1910-46)
Thinking Straight About the Bible or
Is The Bible the Word of God
Published by Baptist Sunday School Board, 1935


How came it (the Bible) to be written?
God inspired holy men to write it.

Did they write It exactly as God wished?
Yes; as much as if he had written every word himself.

Oughtn't it, therefore, to be believed and obeyed?
Yes; as much as though God had spoken directly to us.

James P. Boyce
First President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
President, 1872-79, 1888
From A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine


(God) gave a revelation to make It free from errors. I believe He first made it inerrant as made nature so. Hence, I boldly hold that the analogy of nature is in favor of inerrancy of God's original scriptures... Why in the world is it that there is such a terrible contention by destructive high critics? I think I can tell. The school wants to change the whole order... they wish to get an entering wedge by having it admit that there were inaccuracies... in order to shift and change the order of the Word to suit themselves.

A. T. Robertson
Professor of New Testament Interpretation
Southern Seminary, 1895-1934
The Relative Authority of Scripture and Reason


Did the Biblical writers receive everything by direct revelation?
The inspired writers learned many things by observation or inquiry; but they were preserved by the Holy Spirit from error, whether in learning or writing these things.

What if inspired writers appear to disagree in their statements?
Most cases of apparent disagreement in the inspired writing have been explained, and we may be sure that all could be explained if we had fuller information.

Is this also true when the Bible seems to be in conflict with history or science?
Yes, some cases of apparent conflict with history or science have been explained quite recently that were tong hard to understand.

Has it been proven that the inspired writers stated anything as true that was not true?
No; there Is no proof that the inspired writers made any mistake of any kind.

John A. Broadus
Professor of New Testament
Interpretation end Homiletics
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-1895


The doctrine which we hold is that commonly styled Plenary Inspiration, or Full inspiration. It is that the Bible as a whole is the Word of God, so that in every part of Scripture there is both infallible truth end divine author

Basil Manly
Founding Professor of Biblical Introduction
and Old Testament Interpretation
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Drafted SBTS Abstract of Principles
President of Georgetown College
First President of the Sunday School Board, 1883
The Bible Doctrine of Inspiration (1888)


Conservatives hold that the writers were preserved from all error by the enbreathed Spirit guiding them. Radicals reject such a theory with scorn. Some liberals believe in a sort of inspiration which heightened the spiritual perceptions of the Scriptural writers, but did not preserve them from error.

John R. Sampey
President, Southern Baptist Convention, 1935-37
President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1929-42
Syllabus for Old Testament Study


Infallible has two meanings; one is "without error," the other that "it fulfills its intended function." A dull knife can be an infallible knife if you use it to cut butter. You will weaken the statement by putting in that word. I know it's your pet word, and it's the pet word of a lot of people, but it isn't as strong as the words 'without any mixture of error."

Herschel Hobbs
President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Chairman, Baptist Faith & Message Committee, 1963
From Interview recounting his defense of the
Baptist Faith & Message Wording on the Bible
(SBC Historical Commission)


...What was spoken and written by inspiration, came with as high authority as if it had preceded from God without the use of human instrumentality... Their peculiarities of thought, feeling, and style had no more effect to prevent what they spoke end wrote from being the word of God, than their peculiarities of voice or of chirography.

The question, whether inspiration extended to the very words of revelation, as well as to the thoughts and reasonings, is answered by Paul: "We preach, not in the words which men's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth."

John L. Dagg
President, Mercer University
Manual of Theology (1857)


From An Open Letter to Students of the SBC Cooperative Program
By Mark Coppenger, The Indiana Baptist, April 21, 1992
Used by permission of the Indiana Baptist.