Indianapolis Annotated Statement on Holy Scripture

(Adopted April 25, 1995)
Subscriptional Statement of the Lutheran MInisterium and Synod - USA

  1. We subscribe (1) to the plenary (2) and verbal inspiration (3) of the Bible by which we mean, that we recognize and submit to the Bible as the Word of God recorded in the autographs (4) identified by examining analytically (5) the best extant manuscripts (6), guaranteed by Jesus (7), selected, preserved, and guarded by the Holy Spirit (8), so that He can call people to repentance and create faith in Jesus, the Autographs of all the canonical books (9) of the Old and the New Testaments as God's only written and only authoritative (10) Word, as a whole (11), which has to do with Christ as the focus and with Christ as the authoritative Teacher (12) of all Scripture which must be interpreted by way of the proper distinction between Law and Gospel (13) and in all its parts and words, all parts (14) and words (15) to be interpreted in their plain, lexical, grammatical, Scripturally contextual, historic sense, divinely inspired (16), revealed (17), harmonious (18), and inerrant (19) Word of God, historically accurate in all it reports (20), and prophetically reliable in all that it promises (21), and

  2. that we joyfully submit to this Word of God (22) as the only infallible authority in all matters of Church doctrine (23) and practice (24) and personal faith (25) and life (26).

Indianapolis Annotated Statement on Holy Scripture Notes

  1. "Subscription" is a statement which is signed indicating that the signer or group officially represented by the signer accepts the statement completely and is truly willing to stand with and behind its content. The earliest conservative Lutheran Ministerium of New York, for example, required all ordained pastors to sign or subscribe to a statement that they each stood with and behind the Holy Scriptures, The unaltered Augsburg Confession, and the Small Catechism of Luther.

  2. "Plenary" literally means "full; complete; absolute." Thus in the context of our statement it refers to the full Bible, or the complete Bible, in its entirety, as being the Word of God.

  3. "Verbal Inspiration" refers to our belief that every single word of Holy Scripture is inspired by God and should not be subtracted from or added to.

  4. "Autograph" is understood to mean the 'original writing for each book of Scripture.' These would be the original writings which precede all transcribing for the purpose of making additional copies available for distribution or for the purpose of preservation from the ravages of time and deterioration. Christ, as the Word, has of himself, preserved the original writing.

  5. "Analytical" is the process of carefully examining the written annals or record. Where different versions are in existence it involves careful comparison.

  6. An "Extant Manuscript" is a reference to the oldest surviving document or ancient copy of various books of Scripture.

  7. Jesus guarantees the words of Holy Scripture in his own words recorded in Matthew 5;18, "For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." Mark 13:31, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." cf. Isaiah 40:8, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand for ever."

  8. The Holy Spirit of God is inseparable from the Word of Holy Scripture. He does not work his work apart from the Word of Scripture. It is through Scripture alone that the Holy Spirit does his work as Jesus himself makes clear in John 14:26, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." And as the Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 10:17, "So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ."

  9. "Canonical" refers to the books that make up the Bible as we have it (66 books in total). These books are the books that have been officially and early accepted by the Christian Church as genuine and authentic.

  10. We believe that God has chosen to speak his authoritative word only through the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments and that is why these books have survived over the period of so many thousands of years while all other writings have perished. Jesus came not to do away with the Law but to fulfill the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms. Thus for us, the canon of the Old Testament continues as an authoritative Word of God. Jesus as the Word of God made flesh is the way, the truth and the life, and thus the words of the canonical books of the New Testament are for us the authoritative Word of God. Apart from these canonical writings we believe that there is no other written Word of God. The Bible alone (Sola Scriptura) is the authoritative Word of God to us.

  11. "As a whole" re-emphasizes our view that all of Scripture is God's Word and in what follows, we make it clear that it is our united view that Christ is the focus of and authoritative interpreter of all Scripture.

  12. Luke 24:44-47, Then [Jesus} said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

  13. Mark 1:15, [Jesus said], "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel." The Word of God as Law shows us our sin and drives us to repentance; the Word of God as Gospel creates in us Belief/Faith. Luke 24:47, "and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Preaching of God's Word by our Lord's very own command is always to focus upon the Law (repentance) and upon the Gospel (forgiveness of sins). The two are to be distinguished and the two are to be "preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

  14. All the parts of Holy Scripture are divinely inspired and all parts harmonious within parts, books, and the entire Bible. This strongly emphasizes our united belief and testimony that all of Scripture is truly God's Word and that all the parts of the whole are indeed harmonious with all other parts even though we in our finiteness and incompleteness may not understand how.

  15. As in annotation #3, in reference to "Verbal Inspiration," we stress our belief and united testimony that all the words of Holy Scripture are verbally inspired. John 17:7-8, "Now they know that everything that thou hast given me [Jesus} is from thee; for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me."

  16. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

  17. Amos 3:7, Surely the Lord does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.

  18. "Harmonious" means without discrepancies or contradictions. Our united testimony and witness declares that all parts of Scripture are indeed harmonious. Any apparent discrepancies or contradictions, we believe, are not because any such exist in God's written Word, but apparently exist because of the finiteness and imperfection of our own human understanding. I Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood." John 10:34-36, Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God?'"

  19. It is our united confession that Holy Scripture is inerrant, i.e., not erring; making no mistakes; not wandering. Holy Scripture is not composed of, nor does it contain, any mistakes or errors and thus, it is completely trustworthy and true. The Truth of Scripture is not a relative truth, nor is it a culturally bound/determined truth, nor is it man's attempt to give expression to the truth. Holy Scripture is the Word of God to mankind and thus the Truth of Scripture is fixed with the text and is absolute truth - the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Psalm 119:160a, The sum of thy word is truth..." Isaiah 45:19c, "I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right." John 17:17, "Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth."

  20. It is our belief and united testimony that all of the Scripture is true in each of its parts as well as in its entirety. We are united in the view that human reasoning and empirical enquiry are incapable of understanding or comprehending the truth proclaimed in God's Holy Word of Scripture. Thus we believe and confess that God indeed created the world and all that is in it in six days, each day demarcated by evening and morning. This same calling to believe the teachings of God's Word in faith also applies to all that is proclaimed in Scripture and especially to other key Scriptural doctrinal statements and teachings such as, Mankind's sinful nature and fallennes, The need for a Savior, The Incarnation of God in Human Flesh, The Virgin Birth, The Atonement, The Resurrection, The Ascension, and The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, etc. All of these like the doctrine of Creation in six days cannot be proven or disproved by empirical research nor verified by human reason or understanding, nonetheless we are united in believing each of these to be a proclamation of truth revealed to us by the witness of Holy Scripture. The Witness of Scripture we believe to be entirely the truth and therefore trustworthy and sure. All of this we believe, is most certainly true!

  21. Romans 4:3, For what does the scriptures say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."

  22. Psalm 119:16, I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. :24, Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. :47,48 for I find my delight in thy commandments, which I love. :77, Let your mercy come to me, that I may live. :92, If thy Law had not been my delight, I should have perished in my affliction. :143, Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but thy commandments are my delight. :174, I long for thy salvation, O Lord, and thy Law is my delight. Ezekiel 3:3, And he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it." Then I ate it; and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. Revelation 10:10, "And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter.

  23. 2 timothy 2:15, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

  24. Matthew 7:15-21, Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. James 1:22, But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

  25. John 1:12, But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God. John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  26. 2 Timothy 3:14-15, But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. I Peter 1:22-23, Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.