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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:

bulletClement 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
bulletSt. 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."
bulletSt. 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."
bulletThe Westminster Confession (1647 CE) included a reference to the Bible's "infallible truth."
bulletOther writings referring to infallibility or inerrancy originated from:
bulletThe Belgic Confessional (1561 CE).
bulletCouncil of Florence (1438-1445).
bulletCouncil of Trent (1545-1563).
bulletCouncil of the Vatican (1869-1870).
bulletLeo 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:

bullet95% of Episcopalians,
bullet87% of Methodists,
bullet82% of Presbyterians,
bullet77% of American Lutherans, and
bullet67% 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:

bullet58% believe that the Bible is "totally accurate in all its teachings"
bullet45% 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:

bullet41% of adults strongly agrees that the Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches 5

They also published beliefs by denomination and metagroup:

bulletAbove average support for inerrancy:
bulletPentecostal / Foursquare: 81%
bulletAssembly of God: 77%
bulletChristian, non-denominational (mostly Fundamentalist) 70%
bulletBaptist: 66%
bulletSeventh-day Adventist: 64%
bulletChurch of Christ: 57%
bulletBelow average:
bulletPresbyterian: 40%
bulletMethodist: 38%
bulletLutheran: 34%
bulletLatter-day Saints (Mormon): 29%
bulletCatholics: 26%
bulletEpiscopal: 22% 5

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Web sites discussing biblical errancy and inerrancy:

bulletSites promoting inerrancy:
bulletJay Smith, et al., "100 cleared-up contradictions in the Bible," at: http://debate.org.uk/ 
bulletJ.P. Holding, "Refuted Contradictions" at: http://www.integrityonline15.com/
bulletGospelcom.net has a zip file "Countering contradictions - 143 contradictions answered," that can be downloaded from: http://www.gospelcom.net/
bulletSites 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. 
bulletGordon B. Hazen, "A verdict on Josh McDowell." See: http://users.iems.nwu.edu/
bulletJeffery J. Lowder, "The jury is in: The ruling on McDowell's 'Evidence'," See: http://atheism.org/  
bullet Sites promoting at least limited errancy:
bulletMark 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/
bulletDonald Morgan, "Biblical inconsistencies," at:  http://www.infidels.org/
bullethansss@aol.com, "Fun stuff in the Bible," at: http://members.aol.com/
bulletDennis McKinsey, "Biblical Errancy," at: http://members.aol.com/ 


  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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