“All Scripture is breathed out by God…” 2 Timothy 3.16
Inerrancy is a fancy word which means that the Scriptures are perfect and without any error. Christians believe in biblical inerrancy because God does not lie or speak falsely in any way. Thus, the Bible is without error.
This claim can seem difficult to make when we see read inconsistencies in the Scriptures.
Example: let’s look at Genesis 1 again. There’s a day/night cycle from day 1 yet God doesn’t create the two light sources until day 4. And technically speaking the moon isn’t a light sources but reflects the sun.
As a young Christian I would blindly argue that these weren’t inconsistencies at all.
Along with all the other seeming contradictions of the Bible, I’d try to reason them all away and defend that definition of inerrancy.
It felt like a battle I was losing.
There were two huge points that reaffirmed (though altered) my stance on inerrancy.
- The Scriptures were written to a prescientific group of farmers, not theoretical physicists.
God used redemptive language in a context where the scientific errors went uncorrected. That’s ok, because the Scriptures speak primarily of salvation. The Bible was not intended to advance science but transform lives.
Augustine would call this “accommodation”. Essentially using concepts and terms the audience is familiar with even if they’re not entirely accurate. In the case of Genesis, the author talked about the beginnings of the world in terms they would understand in the ancient Near East.
Accommodation then does not imply errors. It was a device used to communicate its primary message.
2. Scripture is God’s truth in human words. Written by man, but no coauthored.
The Bible is not one book but 66 written in three languages across three continents and 13 countries with over 40 authors yet there is an amazing consistency in the nature of God and his redemptive story.
I believe scholar and author N.T. Wright wrote it best “The Word of God through the words of men.”
God used these authors to communicate spiritual truths all while allowing writers to write from their own experiences and uniqueness as God used them to communicate his Word.
At the very least, the inerrancy of Scripture is:
- Inerrant in the truths it tries to communicate. They are spiritual in nature and not intended to advance science or be accurate historically. Sometimes event order, lists of names, etc. were changed but this does not change inerrancy as it was not relevant nor intended to deceive early readers.
- Inerrant in the original manuscripts. Most inconsistencies in the Bible are a result of translation errors and are minor in nature.
- The Scriptures are inerrant but our interpretation is not.
Having a view that sees Scriptures as inerrant as I’ve written has made knowing God through his word easier. Remember we worship God, not the Bible. The Bible’s goal is to show us who God is and how to know him.
Check back later in the week as we’re going to discuss Jesus’ first miracle!