The Bible inerrant and infallible

(Kelvin Bottle) #1

I be asked this question on another platform but would love to hear what you all have to say on this.

So after having an interesting conversation online I thought I would ask the question here: is the Bible inerrant and infallible? Does this only relate to the original texts or to translations as well

It seems that for some they would argue that it is errant and fallible.

However of course that leads to well what is wrong then with the Bible? How do you know?

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(SeanO) #2

@Kelvin77 I would be curious to know - what are your thoughts on inerrancy? I have committed Christian friends who do struggle with this doctrine, though they still exalt Jesus as Lord and God.

A classic statement of Biblical inerrancy is the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy (see PDF at bottom of page). I think you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘How do you know?’ If only certain parts of the Gospels are true, who decides? Is it just the parts you don’t like? What credible basis is there for picking and choosing?

I personally believe that if we follow Jesus we should trust His word when He said that the OT was the very Word of God and affirmed it by often quoting from it as authoritative. And 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

Chicago_Statement_Inerrancy.pdf (4.1 MB)

The list of examples goes on, and the evidence is clear: Jesus saw the Old Testament as being God’s Word, and his attitude toward it was nothing less than total trust. Many people want to accept Jesus, yet they reject a large portion of the Old Testament. Either Jesus knew what he was talking about, or he didn’t. If a person believes in Jesus Christ, he should be consistent and believe that the Old Testament and its accounts are correct.

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Role of Scripture
Degrees of inerrancy of scripture
(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #3

@SeanO
Would you consider it inappropriate to think that the long ending of mark and the last verse of chapter 7 on John along with the story of the adulterous woman in chapter 8 as inspired in any way? I mean, they both worked it’s way into scripture later on but both are still in our bibles today albeit italicized.

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(SeanO) #4

@O_wretched_man My personal opinion would be that if they were not in the original text, then no, they are not inspired. What makes them inspired is that the author was a prophet or apostle being moved by the Spirit of God. I suppose one could argue that that God was superintending the whole process and therefore wanted us to have those stories too, but that would not be my view. For me, what makes something inspired is that the person writing was being used by God to speak directly to a particular audience.

I think that definition matches well with 2 Peter.

2 Peter 1:21 - For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Here is some more info on the pericope from John and the passage in Mark:

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(Kelvin Bottle) #5

Thanks for your answer.

I agree with what you have said and that has always been pretty much my position as well. However recently I have been thinking does this apply equally to translated versions of the Bible or purely to the originals only.

As when it comes to translated versions in engliah or other languages then error can occur due to a translation choice made by the translators that changes the meaning of the original text. This too can be impacted by the quality of the original documents that the translators have access to.

In the primary discussion I had that sparked the question, the respondent said that the Bible was fallible and errant based on that it was written by fallible man and that jesus the Word of God was infallible and inerrant.

When I posted this question in another group the point argued was that it only applies to the original documents.

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(Kenny) #6

Hi @Kelvin77 that is a good question there.

I think @SeanO has already covered a majority of the key points that I would like to share on.

However to address the claim that “the Bible was fallible and errant based on that it was written by fallible man” is actually a sweeping statement that is true only in perpetuity. An example I usually give is:

If I ask you to write the alphabets perfectly, you will likely be able to do so. But if I asked you to keep writing and not make a mistake, it is impossible for man.

Therefore by being inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the books in the bible (and not to keep writing), it is not an impossible situation.

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(SeanO) #7

@Kelvin77 Most statements of inerrancy that I have read are clear that inspiration only applies to the original texts because interpretation is inherent in translation. That said, the core of our faith - the Gospel - is so clearly presented in any half-decent translation that this is really not a problem.

I think that a simple response to the argument that because the men who wrote the Bible were fallible the Bible itself must be fallible is to point out that the apostle Paul clearly knew the difference between the Holy Spirit speaking through him and his own opinion.

  • 1 Cor. 7:12, “But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let him not send her away.”
  • 1 Cor. 7:25, “Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.”

Therefore, the Bible was an infallible God communicating through fallible men and those men, the prophets and apostles, understood when they were receiving a message from God and could say ‘Thus says the Lord…’ and when they were not… It was the Holy Spirit working through them that makes it infallible.

Now, to me, there is some nuance here… Was God forcing them to get every citation and historical detail absolutely correct or was He guiding the core message / thoughts they were delivering?

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