Inerrancy: Is the Bible Infallable, Inerrant, Free of Error?
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Is the Bible free of error?

Historical support.
What people really believe.
External links.

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Historical support for biblical inerrancy:

bullet Clement of Rome, (circa 30-96 CE) in the late 1st century CE, wrote: "The holy Scriptures which are given through the Holy Spirit...nothing iniquitous or falsified is written." 1
 
bullet St. Augustine (354-430 CE) said: "None of these [canonical] authors has erred in any respect of writing." He also wrote: "Therefore, since they wrote the things which He [God] showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for his members executed what their head dictated."
 
bullet St. Gregory the Great (circa 540-604 CE; served as pope from 590-604 CE) stated: "...we loyally believe the Holy Spirit to be the author of the book.  He wrote it who dictated it for writing; He wrote it who inspired its execution."
 
bullet The Westminster Confession (1647 CE) included a reference to the Bible's "infallible truth."
 
bullet Other writings referring to infallibility or inerrancy originated from:
bullet The Belgic Confessional (1561 CE).
bullet Council of Florence (1438-1445).
bullet Council of Trent (1545-1563).
bullet Council of the Vatican (1869-1870).
bullet Leo XIII in his Encyclical Letter "Providentissimus Deus" (1893).

What Christians actually believe:

A book by George A. Marsden, "Reforming Fundamentalism" quotes a survey of student belief at one of the largest evangelical seminaries in the US. 2 The poll indicated that 85% of the students "do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture."

This book also lists the results of a poll conducted by Jeffery Hadden in 1987 of 10,000 American clergy. 3 They were asked whether they believed that the Scriptures are the inspired and inerrant Word of God in faith, history, and secular matters:

bullet 95% of Episcopalians,
bullet 87% of Methodists,
bullet 82% of Presbyterians,
bullet 77% of American Lutherans, and
bullet 67% of American Baptists said "No."

However, the Christian laity is far more supportive of the inerrancy position. The Barna Research Group reported in 1996 that among American adults generally:

bullet 58% believe that the Bible is "totally accurate in all its teachings"
bullet 45% believe that the Bible is "absolutely accurate and everything in it can be taken literally." 4

Support dropped between that poll and another taken in 2001. Barna reported in 2001 that:

bullet 41% of adults strongly agrees that the Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches 5

They also published beliefs by denomination and metagroup:

bullet Above average support for inerrancy:
bullet Pentecostal / Foursquare: 81%
bullet Assembly of God: 77%
bullet Christian, non-denominational (mostly Fundamentalist) 70%
bullet Baptist: 66%
bullet Seventh-day Adventist: 64%
bullet Church of Christ: 57%
 
bullet Below average:
bullet Presbyterian: 40%
bullet Methodist: 38%
bullet Lutheran: 34%
bullet Latter-day Saints (Mormon): 29%
bullet Catholics: 26%
bullet Episcopal: 22% 5

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Web sites discussing biblical errancy and inerrancy:

bullet Sites promoting inerrancy:
bullet Jay Smith, et al., "100 cleared-up contradictions in the Bible," at: http://debate.org.uk/ 
bullet J.P. Holding, "Refuted Contradictions" at: http://www.integrityonline15.com/
bullet Gospelcom.net has a zip file "Countering contradictions - 143 contradictions answered," that can be downloaded from: http://www.gospelcom.net/
 
bullet Sites analyzing a major book that promotes inerrancy: A number of researchers have critiqued Josh McDowell's book "Evidence That Demands a Verdict." The book is an attempt to prove biblical inerrancy, and has been widely distributed. 
bullet Gordon B. Hazen, "A verdict on Josh McDowell." See: http://users.iems.nwu.edu/
bullet Jeffery J. Lowder, "The jury is in: The ruling on McDowell's 'Evidence'," See: http://atheism.org/  
 
bullet  Sites promoting at least limited errancy:
bullet Mark Mattison, "Is the Bible inerrant?," at: http://www.auburn.edu/
bullet "Is the Bible inerrant and complete?," at: http://ourworld-top.cs.com/
bullet "Bible Contractions," American Atheists, at: http://www.atheists.org/
bullet Donald Morgan, "Biblical inconsistencies," at:  http://www.infidels.org/
bullet [email protected], "Fun stuff in the Bible," at: http://members.aol.com/
bullet Dennis McKinsey, "Biblical Errancy," at: http://members.aol.com/ 

References:

  1. Dave Miller, "Why I Believe in the Inerrancy of the Scriptures" http://www.infidels.org/
  2. M.J. Sawyer, "Inspiration and Bible Inerrancy" at: http://www.bible.org/  
  3. The Gideon, January, 1994, Page 12-13
  4. G. Barna, "The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators," Word Publishing, Dallas, TX, (1996)
  5. "Religious beliefs vary widely by denomination," Barna Research, at: http://www.barna.org/

Copyright 1997 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Latest update: 2009-APR-16

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