Is the bible inerrant?

I was just curious about the opinions of some people on if the bible was inerrant or not. Personally, I think the bible could have errors and minor problems as it was written by humans trying to interpret a huge and non-physical God. Naturally, there should be some errors, right? Even with divine influence, there is not guarantee that it was used correctly.


Well … no matter what one’s stance is regarding the state of the inaccessible, pristinely written autographs … there is no denying this: Our receipt and understanding of whatever latest translation we have available is anything but infallible or inerrant or (we probably can’t even presume on ‘inspired’!)

Which reduces the former question to [near] irrelevance; (especially insofar as, in many modern organizations, it’s become little more than a contest for us to see who has built the shiniest and highest edifice to venerate their view of scripture over everyone else’s.) It is like getting in a dispute over whether or not the headwaters of your favorite river swimming hole came from the most completely pure and perfect H2O the world has ever seen! But after it’s flowed by dozens of villages, been peed in, pooped in, swam in, polluted in, … by the time you’re enjoying them, it becomes almost irrelevant what you insist about those imagined headwaters way up there. We are imperfect radio receivers living in a world full of noise. So no matter how perfect some transmitter is, whatever we take away from it on our end is simply going to have error in it, and we are left with the task (not of discarding the precious signal then), but of handling it well, and doing the necessary work (and prayer) of hearing the message that’s there for us, even with all the noise and baggage we bring to our encounter with it. So we do at least want to be sure we’re actually swimming in the (presumably still life-giving) river, and not in the sewer spewing from a local factory.

[And I suppose we could think of translators and scholars as being like river conservationists who are working under the Spirit’s guidance to keep or restore the river waters so that more villages continue to have access to the good water. A worthy and necessary labor. But if it’s important to us to think the original autographs were ‘inerrant’, then you’re also having faith that all the canon councils and translation work over the ages was also under the Spirit’s direction too. Yet even then, are you going to insist that such a cloak of infallibility also extends finally to you, the reader then too? And to what modern thinkers have taught you must get packed into such a favorite shibboleth as: ‘inerrant’? At this point, hopefully you can see why so many don’t find this whole project all that fruitful any more.]

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I remember reading how one scholar said he had no problem with saying the Bible was inerrant, so long as he could define it. Inerrant means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. With that in mind, perhaps it is no longer a very useful word to describe God’s revelation to us through written words. I feel God is faithful to transmit those things he wishes to reveal to us through the the Bible in a way that can be understood by us, but that message is ultimately interpreted through the lens of Jesus by the help of the Holy Spirit. That leaves ambiguity and areas of conflict, however, which is uncomfortable.
How would you, @pjetercatsplat define inerrancy? By the way, welcome to the forum, as I see you are a relative newcomer. It is good to have you here and hear your voice.


The scriptures inerrantly strike the targets that God intends them to.


So you agree with me?

That’s an interesting point. Are you saying that perhaps it is not inerrant as in perfect, but rather hits everything intended?

Yeah I agree with that, It can’t be perfectly interpreted universally as no human shares a universal mind and experience.

I think I would define inerrant as the message and interpretation are fully and wholly exactly as how God intended it to be and worded how God wanted it to be worded. I would exclude trivial errors like grammar and language as obviously those things fluctuate over time.


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Yes. I can’t find any claim of factual inerrancy in the entire Bible, but there are several verses that say His Word does what it was sent to do, under both Testaments.

Well, I especially agree with your last statement, anyway.

If people are willing to nuance it - and limit their ascription of infallibility to what is actually being taught, then … I’m still okay calling it inerrant. (When I’ve been obliged to join in with that game, I have.)

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No, not in the Chicago Statement sense. Here is one interesting issue for the inerrancy folks. The New Testament quotes passages from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Masoretic Text, the Hebrew Scriptures). Some of the quotes included are from document sources other than the ones that make up the curent, most reliable MT, and textual critics have now evaluated them to contain known scribal copying errors or mistranslations. But since they are incorporated into the New Testament, does that magically make the obviously erroneous Septuagint passages “inerrant.”? No, that’s silly.


Inerrancy is primarily an American construct, invented in a specific time to fight specific battles. It outlived its usefulness with the advent of the postmodern focus on perspectivalism, constructed knowledge, and reading the Scriptures in community. It’s based on a model of language and communication (code model) that has been discarded by cognitive scientists in favor of a new one (inference model) that does not support ideas like “verbal plenary inspiration.” (Because it turns out words are not little meaning containers after all.)

The global church is content with words like “authoritative,” “inspired,” and “infallible.” These words communicate the historical doctrine that the canon represents God’s special revelation, the composers, compilers, redacters, and preservers of the text were moved by God’s spirit in some way to record and maintain the Scriptures, and God’s word faithfully does what God intends it to do through the work of his Spirit in the church.

I am personally much more content with these words in a doctrine of Scripture than “inerrancy,” because inerrancy is a demonstrably flawed construct that results in people wasting time in these Star Trek convention-esque conversations “defending” and “dealing with” esoteric details in passages instead of contextualizing the meaning and getting on with the business of living Christ-like lives for the blessing of the world.


Infallible is a stronger term than inerrant. Infallible says the Bible cannot err, and inerrant means that it is without errors.

Ok, that makes sense.

Alright, thanks for the clarification.

I think I would agree with that.

I just looked up “infallible” in the dictionary and one definition is “always effective” as in an “infallible cure”. So, infallible could have a broader meaning as “the bible always accomplishes what it was meant to do”, a meaning unrelated to the factual correctness of every word or number (which seems to be what the word “inerrant” is trying to capture).


Not how I’ve seen it used. In most global Evangelical contexts it means God’s word doesn’t fail to do what God intends it to do. And clearly, that’s an ideal and a faith claim made in hope, not a description of observed reality, because people use God’s word abusively and not as God probably intended all the time. When people assume their interpretations are infallible, that’s a whole other issue.


The Chicago Statement accounts for alot of this. I can’t remember if I read the whole thing, but I am aware it at least accounts for hyperbole.

I don’t think anyone in the conversation believes God’s word is fallible (maybe some open theists :wink:) the question is really what is the relationship between God’s word and the Bible. I have no problem with a wide range of understanding on this, and once any semblance of political authority is taken from the Church I am optimistic (perhaps naively) the Church via the Spirit, will find a better way.

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Take a look here

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Interestingly, it would be just as meaningful to say the Bible is inerrant with regard to doctrines touching on faith and morals

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