Religious Tolerance logo

Is the Bible free of error?

Historical support.
What people really believe.
External links.

Sponsored link.

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

Sponsored link:

Web sites discussing biblical errancy and inerrancy:

bullet Sites promoting inerrancy:
bullet Jay Smith, et al., "100 cleared-up contradictions in the Bible," at: 
bullet J.P. Holding, "Refuted Contradictions" at:
bullet has a zip file "Countering contradictions - 143 contradictions answered," that can be downloaded from:
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:
bullet Jeffery J. Lowder, "The jury is in: The ruling on McDowell's 'Evidence'," See:  
bullet  Sites promoting at least limited errancy:
bullet Mark Mattison, "Is the Bible inerrant?," at:
bullet "Is the Bible inerrant and complete?," at:
bullet "Bible Contractions," American Atheists, at:
bullet Donald Morgan, "Biblical inconsistencies," at:
bullet, "Fun stuff in the Bible," at:
bullet Dennis McKinsey, "Biblical Errancy," at: 


  1. Dave Miller, "Why I Believe in the Inerrancy of the Scriptures"
  2. M.J. Sawyer, "Inspiration and Bible Inerrancy" at:  
  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:

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

line.gif (538 bytes)

Go to the previous page, or return to the Inerrancy menu, or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

GooglePage Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.