Thirty years ago today, the theologian Francis Schaeffer died. His widow and partner in ministry, Edith, would later write about the comfort that she received in those lonely moments. Her confidence rested in the inerrant Bible that her husband had defended throughout his ministry.
It was 4 A.M. precisely that a soft last breath was taken…and he was absent. That absence was so sharp and precise! Absent. Now I only observed the absence. I can vouch for the absence being precisely at 4 A.M. As for his presence with the Lord, I had to turn to my Bible to know that. I only know that a person is present with the Lord because the Bible tells us so. I did not have a mystical experience. I want to tell you hear and now that the inerrant Bible became more important to me than ever before. I want to tell you very seriously and solemnly—the Bible is more precious than ever to me. My husband fought for truth and fought for the truth of the inspiration of the Bible—the inerrancy of the Bible—all the 52 years that I knew him. But never have I been more impressed with the wonder of having a trustworthy message from God, an unshakable word from God than right then! I did not have to have, nor pretend to have, some mystical experience to prove that Fran had left to go somewhere, that he had gone to the prepared place for him, and that he was indeed OK. I could know that by turning to my precious Bible, and to his precious Bible (and we each have had several), and read again that absent from the body is present with the Lord—and that it is far better. It is far better for the one who is thus present, but not for those left behind. God knows all about the pain of separation and is preparing that separation will be over forever one future day. I also know that because the Bible tells me so. I feel very sorry for the people who have to be “hoping without any assurance”…because they don’t know what portion of the Bible is myth and what portion might possibly be trusted. (1)
This is what is at stake when we talk about the inerrancy of Scripture. The inerrant Word of God is the Christian’s only sure basis for hope. Based on Scripture’s truthfulness and authority, we can have hope—confident assurance in a future reality—that our bodies will be redeemed, the curse on this earth will be removed, Christ will establish His eternal kingdom on a new earth where sin and its effects are finally removed!
(1) Edith Schaeffer, Dear Family: The L’Abri Family Letters, 1961-1986 (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989), 388-389.