Description. Associated terms. Biblical
Followers of many religions believe that their own sacred texts are inerrant. This is
particularly true within the conservative wings of the world's major religions. For
||Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Protestants generally believe the
entire Bible to be inerrant. Their belief in inerrancy is based, in
part, on 2 Timothy 3:16 which states that the Scriptures are "God-breathed."
||Muslims generally believe the Qur'an to be dictated to Muhammad by
the archangel Gabriel, with words that came from Allah. Thus, it is inerrant.
||Members of the Baha'i Faith believe that the writings of their founder,
Baha'u'llah, are inerrant.
However, there are exceptions. For example:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes four canonized
scriptures: the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants,
and the Pearl of Great
Price. Many Mormons consider them to be inerrant in their original
form: However, the Church does not teach that the Bible
is the Will of God. It teaches that the Bible
contains the Will of God. "...the Bible makes no claim to absolute inerrancy, and in fact specifically
repudiates this notion."
Since the religious texts of various religions and denominations differ greatly from
one another, only one of them (at most) can be truly inerrant. The rest
must contain at least some errors.
Terms associated with biblical inerrancy:
There are a number of additional Christian terms that are often used in connection with
"Plenary" means that the Scriptures are sufficiently complete and
adequate to communicate God's will to mankind.
"Infallible" means that the Bible passages "never deceive
nor mislead." They can be relied upon.
"Authoritative" means that
the Bible, as the expression
of God's will to us, defines what we are to
believe and how we are to conduct ourselves."
Steven Ibbotson states: "The
Bible is authoritative because it is God's inspired word to humanity."
5 From these beliefs logically
flow that it
is "binding on all
people." Everyone will eventually have to "give an account for how they
lived in light of its teaching."
concept has obvious difficulties when it is applied to persons who have
never heard of Jesus, the gospel, the Bible, or perhaps even Christianity
"Autograph copies" refer to the original, hand-written copies of the
books of the Bible. It is important to remember that none of the original copies exist. We
only have access to copies of copies of copies of.....
is the belief that God monitored
the authors of the Bible and prevented them from making errors in their
writings. More details
The linkage between biblical inspiration and inerrancy:
The two beliefs that:
are closely related. One flows logically from the other. If one is not true
it is difficult to conceive of a way in which the other would be true.
|Liberal Christians generally believe that the authors and redactors
of the Bible were not
by God, and that they wrote material that contains errors. They based their writing on their
experiences and the findings of science. Their writings reflect their personal:|
||Knowledge about events in their past, which would have had many inaccuracies.
||Knowledge of ancient stories, legends, and myths. These would have been of questionable accuracy.
Some would have been passed
down and/or adsorbed from nearby Pagan cultures.
||Knowledge about the nature of the universe, the nature of human
sexuality, etc. This would have been often in error because the writers lived in a
||Customs based on ancient Hebrew and Jewish culture which may or may
not reflect the will of God -- either then or today.
||Beliefs about the nature, expectations, location, attributes, etc. of God, and his
will for humanity. These beliefs would differ among the various authors.
Since the authors were able to rely only on upon their personal experiences and understanding, one would expect that the Bible would be errant.
||Some of the writings would describe probably describe mythical individuals who never lived.
||Some would describe events that never happened or which happened differently
from what was written.
||The Mosaic Law would have reflected only the beliefs of the writer(s) of the
Pentateuch. They were not laws delivered to humanity by God.
||One would expect that the moral, ethical, spiritual, and religious teachings
found in Bible passages would show differences of opinion and a gradual
evolution of belief over the ten centuries during which the books of the Bible
Some of the passages could be expected to violate
the will of God at the time they were written or now.
Most liberal Christians find that their interpretation of biblical passages
demonstrates all of these expectations.
||Conservative Christians generally believe that the authors and
redactors of the Bible were inspired
by God, and that they wrote material that was error-free.|
||Since God inspired the authors, they must have written inerrant text.
Otherwise, God would have been in error or lying when he influenced the text.
Being prone to error is not a normally accepted attribute of God.
||Since the Bible is inerrant and since the authors of the Bible were only
human beings, they must have been inspired by God. Otherwise their writing would
have contained errors due to human fallibility.
Since the authors were inspired and their writings inerrant then one would
||The Bible would reflect the will of God for humanity.
||Since God does not change, the Bible would be consistent and all of the
passages can be harmonized with each other. One can use one or more passages to
||The Biblical themes would show an amazing consistency from Genesis to
Most conservative Christians find that their interpretation of biblical
passages demonstrates all of these expectations.
It appears that ones belief about the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible
profoundly influences how one interprets biblical passages. There is little hope
of agreement between the various wings of Christianity until a consensus is
reached on the concepts of inerrancy and inspiration.
Related essay in this web site:
Barry R. Bickmore, "Does the Bible claim to be 'inerrant'?"
The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, at:
http://www.fairlds.org/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from:
Dave Miller, "Why I Believe in the Inerrancy of the Scriptures"
Wayne Jackson, "Evidence for Bible Inspiration," Reason and Revelation 3, (1983-FEB), Pages 7-10.
- Millard J. Erickson, "Christian Theology," Baker, (1985), Page 241.
Steven Ibbotson, "Biblical Authority," Prairie bible Institute, (2000), at:
Copyright © 1997 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on
Author: B.A. Robinson
Latest update: 2012-AUG-01