Someone recently wrote something to the effect that if they ever encountered a historical error in the Bible, it wouldn’t shake their faith because the Bible is so overwhelmingly accurate in the main. They added that Biblical inerrancy is not the central doctrine of the Christian faith, but the resurrection is.
The statement bothered me when I saw it, and it has bothered me since for a couple of reasons.
First, if I ever encountered a historical error in the Bible, it wouldn’t shake my faith either - but for a different reason. I’d simply assume that the error was on man’s part, not God’s. Either a copyist had miscopied something or a translator had mistranslated something or an interpreter had misinterpreted something.
But every jot and tittle that God inspired His holy men of old to write was absolutely inerrant when it came steaming from the stylus of the prophets and apostles. Either a perfectly inerrant God wrote it or He didn’t. This really is an all or nothing proposition.
And secondly, the statement seemed to downgrade the importance of inerrancy.
Now I understand that if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain, so I can see why one might characterize the resurrection as “the” central doctrine of the Christian faith. But I’m more inclined to think that the closer one gets to the “center” of Christianity, the more intertwined those innermost, non-negotible doctrines become. So I would think it more accurate to characterize the resurrection as “a” central doctrine rather than “the” one and only.
Because if the Bible’s original text correctly understood isn’t inerrant, our faith in it is also vain. If Christ isn’t God in the flesh - if Jesus wasn’t born of a Virgin - if He wasn’t sinless - if His death on Calvary was not a completely satisfactory substitutionary atonement - if salvation isn’t through the grace of God upon penitent believers - if any of these core beliefs, that are all inter-related and central to the faith, are untrue, then the whole theology unravels, and our faith is vain.
How do we know about a resurrection except through a divinely inspired revelation? How can you have a resurrection without an atoning death? How can it be atoning without a sinless Substitute? How can He be the sinless Son of God unless virgin born?
And you can keep weaving all of these core beliefs back and forth in an endless knot.
So, is there only one indispensable doctrine to the Christian faith? Is the original inerrancy of God’s Word as important to die for as the resurrection, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, etc.?