Sooner or later, you have to choose between the Bible and inerrancy

August 23, 2012

A discussion I’ve been part of on Facebook illustrates something that I have said before on numerous occasions: ultimately, for those approaching the Bible as a sacred text, one has to choose between showing respect for the Bible above all, or giving ultimate authority to a doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.

This was illustrated in a discussion of the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. The two do not agree between David and Joseph. The most common approach to harmonizing them is to claim that one of them is Mary’s genealogy.

But that is not what the text says. Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke explicitly say that they are giving Joseph’s genealogy.

And so this provides a nice test case for my point about the incompatibility of inerrancy and giving one’s ultimate respect to the Bible. If one is committed above all else to a doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, then you will be forced not just in this particular instance, but time and time again, to sacrifice what the Bible actually says in order to harmonize texts. Those two Gospels can say explicitly and unambiguously that they are giving Joseph’s genealogy. But you will deny that they mean what they say, in order to insist that both are right – even though, ironically, you are in fact saying that one of them, taken at face value, is wrong. And so with the very sword you picked up to try to defend your doctrine of the Bible, you do damage to the Bible, cutting off anything that is a threat to your doctrine.

Inerrancy is not and can never be a doctrine that respects the Bible. It is a framework imposed on the Bible and which is antithetical to giving the Bible respect, to say nothing of authority.

As I shared in a quote by Theodore Vial earlier this month, there are Christians who claim to be committed to inerrancy and the literal truth of the Bible, but the two inevitably conflict, and when they do, it is the latter that is sacrificed at the altar of the former.

Originally posted at Exploring Our Matrix



I am always amazed at the convoluted logic apologetics will use to prove the inerancy of the Bible. The author simply used an example, perhaps not the best one, but nonetheless his point is if you insist on a literal meaning of the Bible you run up against many inconsistencies.  The literalists also claim the Bible is God's  Holy Word.  I often wonder how Paul would have reacted if someone said Paul you better be careful what you write in your letters to these churches because someday religious leaders will decide they should be included in the Holy Scripture. 

If the Bible started with - in the beginning God created the big bang - would it change any of spiritual lessons hidden in the biblical allegories?

If anyone responds to these questions, and I hope they do; you don't have to quote some great theological writer to prove your erudition.  Just because someone wrote a book or paper you agree with doesn't make your opinion any more valid.  A plethora of validation is available for all sides of any discussion.  Really, would we need theologians at all if there was only one right answer.

The inerrancy of the Bible

Let me state first that I am a man of faith.  I love the Bible as a book, and am grateful for it's teachings.  In reference to this short article, however, I must point out that it is not the Bible that we believe in.  We have anthropomorphized the Bible for so long, that I think we forget that it is God, the Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, whom we believe, NOT "the Bible".  Some will say  that believing in the Bible and believing in Jesus Christ is one and the same thing, so what difference does it make?  Well, I think the difference is this: The Bible, looked at strictly as a book, COULD be wrong, but Jesus Christ will NEVER be wrong.  I believe it broadens our minds and opens our hearts to the Spirit of God when we remember that it is Jesus Christ that we worship, and follow, and listen to, as opposed to simply the Bible, as fine a distinction as that may be for some.