Q & A Session on Inerrancy (1:30)

What are some ways in which one who is well-meaning can misrepresent inerrancy?

Dictation theory

Flatten out scripture in such a way that one misinterprets or misapplies Scripture

Thinking of the Bible as a technical handbook say on scientific things. Inerrancy means that something is true albeit not “technical”

Recognizing genres of Scripture: don’t press hyperbole or round numbers. Inerrancy does not demand a particular degree of precision. I drove 20 miles is not untrue because I drove 21 miles.

What about variations in quotations of Jesus in the Gospels?


Perhaps two occasions

Perhaps two different statements

Distinguish between direct & indirect discourse.

Inerrancy: what we affirm is that the gospel writer has accurately portrayed Jesus’ words to the degree intended.

E.g., Quotations of Deut. 6:4-5 in the Gospel: each of the quotations is slightly different however each is accurate as to what was said.

We don’t have the autographs, so how can we know what the text is?

Look at the debates between Ehrman and Wallace or Ehrman and White.

The science of textual criticism. By means of this we can come to a very high degree of confidence as to the original. We have more confidence in the text of Scripture than any other ancient document

Jesus did not have the OT autographs, yet he was not shaken in his confidence in the errancy of the OT. 

Are we going to approach the Bible with confidence or suspicion: general discussion of one’s confidence and how it grew and changed.

Trueman: Scripture’s testimony itself, seeing how Scripture transforms people. I would not want to reduce my confidence to any particular factor. This does not mean that everything in Scripture is easy to believe. But there are times when it is hard to trust God [e.g., Job, Psalm 88]

Busenitz: proof, evidence is only enough to win an argument, not to create belief.

When we know someone who has read Ehrman, how do respond? 

Just because evidence does not create faith we can respond with evidence to reject certain arguments. In a pastoral confidence we will need to address such things for those who see their faith disturbed. 

Response, good book, The Heresy of Orthodoxy

Recognize that there are presuppositions on both sides of the table. Those who reject Scripture is not based solely upon “evidence”. Showing what lies beneath the surface. When we see a problem we see something to resolve, they see something which proves it is false.

Ultimately our faith is not in inerrancy. The worst thing we can do in a debate is leave without the Gospel

What is the strongest argument against inerrancy?

Technical arguments on texts & manuscripts where I don’t have expertise. In some circumstances the right answer is to refer the question to someone with expertise.

The genealogies and chronology in Chronicles and Kings, sometimes don’t know the resolution. There are issues that one can’t explain right now. 

Inerrancy is a negative term

Inerrancy is immediately on the defensive.

Is there a better term?

Infallibility would be better but it has been defined so broadly that does not capture all that we want to say. The word has been hijacked. Infallible actually means incapable of error. Now it merely means inerrant in certain areas.

“True” works. Trustworthy. 

Well-versed inerrancy (Van Hoozer), because even inerrancy is becoming ambiguous.

We must not reduce our doctrine of Scripture to mere inerrancy. Some of the concern of negativity comes from a too small doctrine of Scripture. Inerrancy may not be the biggest problem for a Christian in the pew. 

How did infallibility become hijacked.

The Scriptures are powerful & effective to those things that Scripture it was powerful & effective for. [Remember the inerrant power of Scripture.] Infallibility emphasized one point [power] and lost another.

Circular argument Inerrancy based upon the Bible claiming to be inerrant.

Sproul’s argument was quite good. 

We can’t get away completely from circularity. There are some things which we must presuppose to even consider the matter. 

Yet while their is some element of circularity it is not purely circular, there are other aspects of support. 

Every worldview must appeal to some authority. Christians appeal to a trinitarian authority, the revelation of God in Scripture & Christ. 

Depends upon the one asking: 

If Christians, I intend to state that the Bible is true and thus I appeal to the Bible as God’s revealed will. If I appeal to something else, then I implicitly set that as a higher authority. 

If unbelievers, their argument is usually just an excuse so I go to the Gospel

Can I deny inerrancy & be a Christian?

How does this doctrine rank?

One can be saved without ever hearing the Bible (strictly speaking)

Yet to not believe God’s Words puts one in the place of Genesis 3.

When I come across someone who is beginning to doubt inerrancy, I typically ask about their marriage or other potential area of besetting sin and seeking to justify sin.

Immorality leads to heresy.

Sometimes a presenting symptom is not the problem.

Six Day Creation

Must you hold to six day if one holds to inerrancy. 

These are not necessarily tied together. We must be careful not to tag my version of some view as the substance of inerrancy.

Warfield was not a six day creationist & was The inerrantist. 

This is an area where Christians may disagree. 

But when it comes to historical Adam, a rejection here would be a denial of inerrancy. 

Genesis 1 & 2 has been a long standing question, Genesis 3 is different. Old earth is not rejecting a truth claim of the Bible; it is an interpretative issue. 

Inerrancy is not used in the Bible. Why didn’t God give a clear definition of inerrancy?

This book is God’s Word. God cannot lie. God’s Word is truth.

The Bible is filled with ideas for which we have coined terms. 

Sometimes people hold the substance of the position as the same while the name differs. Sometimes the word “inerrancy” is used in a very different way than others would.

There are commonly caricatures of theology from which one runs away. Make sure we understand properly before we have an opinion.

Books on the Bible

One general, one scholarly

Packard: Fundamentalism and the Word of God

Warfield: Authority and Inspiration; Krueger, Canon Revisited; Thy Word is Still Truth

Geisler: Inerrancy

Michael Krueger

Five Views of Inerrancy [Mohler’s chapter]