Thanks for checking out this post. Here is my question: Are there different degrees (interpretations, schools of thought, etc.) on the doctrine of the inerrancy of scripture? If so can someone give a break down of what they are?
Yes, there are different views on inerrancy. I would say that among those who are seeking to follow Jesus as the risen Savior, you could encounter people on the following spectrum from 1-4. Historic Christian teaching would be in the realm of 1/2. More on inerrancy down below.
Christ grant you wisdom
Every word of the Bible is inerrant and directly inspired by God
Every thought in the Bible is inerrant, but some words or facts may be the author’s own
The overall story of the Bible is inspired, with Jesus being the fullest revelation of God, but we wonder about some of those OT books and maybe a bit of Paul
We really don’t get all the violence in the OT and we just hold really tightly to Jesus and the NT
We have good reasons to believe that the whole Scripture is trustworthy.
1 - written by a prophet or apostle / someone who directly knew such a person
2 - faithfulness to already accepted canonical writings
3 - Jesus affirmed the inspiration of the 39 Books of the Old Testament canon, so Christians can trust His authority on that matter
4 - accepted by the wider Church body as a whole
That said, I think one reason people find inerrancy so hard to accept is because they have misconceptions about it.
1 - Inerrancy does not mean that we take the Bible ‘literally’ in a wooden sense - we still take into account the historical and grammatical context
2 - Inerrancy does not mean that the worldview of the Biblical authors was scientifically accurate
3 - Inerrancy does not mean that we can apply any portion of Scripture to our situation today - God revealed Himself progressively (while still being the same yesterday, today and forever) and we leave in the era of the Church
4 - Belief in inerrancy is not necessary for salvation
5 - Inerrancy does not mean that all Scripture is equally profitable or edifying
6 - Inerrancy (in my opinion) does not mean there are no small factual errors in the Bible - that does not bother me in the least or detract from the beauty and glory of the grand narrative
The inspiration is dynamic with The Holy Spirit guiding the authors in thought, there may be parts that seem in error but those are usually miss-understood by the reader. I have studied the Scriptures for about 60 years and never have been able to establish an err in the Bible. There are places that copy mistakes occurred but that is completely separate from the original message. There are times the scripture makes statements that reflect then current observations that may not reflect scientific precision but the observation is true within its context. There are numerous statements in Scripture that we do not understand but just because we do not understand does not make it wrong. I’ve learned to accept the Scripture as stated and defer making judgments regarding something I read in the Bible, the future usually improves my understanding vindicating the integrity of the Scripture, there are some thing I’m waiting on.
@SeanO Thanks for the response! To answer your follow up question “Why do you ask?” Actually you addressed it partially in your response: “1 - Inerrancy does not mean that we take the Bible ‘literally’ in a wooden sense - we still take into account the historical and grammatical context.” I’ve heard some fairly well know apologists use the term “Wooden” in their podcasts. I had to ask myself “What exactly does that mean?” Would it be accurate to say that wooden equals hyper literalism? Can you give me some examples of wooden? From there I just got to wondering how many different views of inerrancy there are.
I personally believe that the original autographs are inerrant. Inerrant means they tell the truth, but also allows for things like: figures of speech in poetry, literal histories, grammar or spelling mistakes (which I love since I have learning disabilities in spelling and reading ), etc. I also hold that since we do not have original autographs it allows for thing like textual variants. I don’t hold variants as a big deal as the Bible has the richest manuscript archive in antiquity. That allows us to have a high degree (high 90’s percentage wise) of certainly of what the originals said. Does all that make sense?
Thanks again SeanO I look forward to you 2nd response.
@RyanMelcher Yes, I think everything you said makes sense and I would agree with the fact that textual variants contain very few meaningful differences. The core of Christian doctrine is not impacted at all by variances in the manuscripts. Good stuff!
Archaeological and manuscript evidence proves reliability of the Bible. The Bible has manuscript evidence from 250 BC unparalleled by any other scriptural manuscript evidence. The Bible is 99% accurate according to scholars based on manuscript evidence (Peter Flint) . There are only very rare minor copyist errors which don’t change the message of the Bible. The scribes were extremely meticulous and had methods in place to ensure accuracy when copying the Bible (Josh Mc Dowell)