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Inerrancy: The Bible is Without Error Because It Says It Is

the bible says

Most Evangelicals believe the Protestant Christian Bible is inspired (breathed out by God), inerrant (without error), and infallible (impossible to fail in matters of faith and practice). Evangelicals disagree among themselves over what, exactly, is inerrant and infallible. The original manuscripts (which do not exist)? The extant manuscripts? Certain manuscript families such as the Alexandrian and Byzantine families)? Modern translations? Only certain translations such as the King James Bible?

An increasing number of Evangelicals have abandoned the idea that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, saying it is faithful and reliable in matters of faith and practice, but not without error in matters of history, archeology, cosmology, and biology. Regardless of their viewpoints, all Evangelicals have a high view of Scripture, and many of them reject modern scholarship and higher textual criticism. Evangelicals will say they do “textual criticism,” but only to the degree that their criticisms and interpretations comport with Evangelical orthodoxy. A true textual critic follows the path wherever it leads. Evangelicals, on the other hand, follow a path defined by their presuppositions and theology. The outcome is never in doubt.

Ask the average Evangelical if the Bible translation they hold in their hands, read from, and carry to church on Sundays is inerrant (and by extension infallible), and they will, with great passion and conviction, say YES! When asked to provide evidence for their claim, most Evangelicals will quote Bible verses such as:

  •  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1: 20-21
  • The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. Psalm 12:6-7
  • For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18-19

Got Questions lists other verses that allegedly teach that the Bible is without error. Some of the verses are a real stretch, thus proving that the Bible can be used to “prove” almost anything.

Bible verses are not evidence, they are claims. The aforementioned verses CLAIM the Bible is inerrant, but provide no evidence that the claim is actually true. In other words, the Bible is inerrant because the Bible says it is. This, of course, is circular reasoning. There is no evidence outside of the Bible itself, that the Protestant Scriptures are without error.

bible inerrancy

Bible inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility are faith claims. Either you believe the Bible is inerrant, or you don’t. Faith allows people to believe things for which they have no evidence. If Evangelicals have empirical evidence for Bible inerrancy and infallibility, faith is unnecessary. Faith is always the refuge of last resort, the house Evangelicals run to when challenges to their beliefs become too much for them to handle.

The Bible is an inspirational book for scores of people, but it is not without error — as any cursory reading of the relevant literature will show us. One need only read a couple of New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s best-selling books on the nature and history of the Bible to be disabused of the notion that the Bible is inerrant. The errors and contradictions are there for all to see. Granted, Evangelicals have “answers” for many, if not most, of the accusations of errancy and fallibility. Not good answers; not credible answers; not rational answers — but answers nonetheless.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    Evangelicals don’t do themselves any favors with the literalist inerrant concepts. Any critical thinker who reads the Bible will find things that are contradictory, don’t make sense, aren’t supported by science or history, or that are obviously parables.

    Having been raised with the literalist inerrant view of the Bible, once I found that evidence doesn’t support that notion, I had a hard time not questioning everything. For example, if a literal 6 day creation story isn’t supported by scientific evidence, what else may not be true? I wrestled with that for awhile until I finally gave up on the whole thing. I know people who don’t find that to be a problem, and they’re able to chug along with the parts of Christianity that they like. I just couldn’t.

  2. Avatar
    Benny S

    Over the last 3 months, I’ve been reading roughly a half dozen Bart Ehrman books. A few things stand out in my mind while reading the above post:

    #1 – There’s ongoing debate as to whether 2 Timothy (“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”) was written by Paul, or was forged by someone unknown (same for a number of other “Pauline” writings). So, I find it amusing that a possibly forged 2 Timothy is used as a defense for the authority of scripture.

    #2 – There was no biblical / New Testament canon of scripture until the mid-to-late 4th century CE, decided upon by the Catholic church. That’s 300 years AFTER the deaths of Christ, Paul, Peter and others, when it was decided what should be included in the New Testament. Not to mention the other additional gospels, letters, and apocalypses that were not included in the canon.

    #3 – I find it ironic that countless anti-Catholic evangelicals / fundamentalists rally and defend New Testament scripture compiled by the Catholic church.

    • Avatar

      (Benny S) “#3 – I find it ironic that countless anti-Catholic evangelicals / fundamentalists rally and defend New Testament scripture compiled by the Catholic church.”

      Heard this addressed by evangelicals of every stripe. They’ve got canned, idiotic answers all right. Answers that leave you scratching your head and breaking the fourth wall.

  3. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    “You can’t start a sentence with ‘because’?”


    “Because I said so.”

    And the Bible says it’s true because…

  4. Avatar

    What is most silly is that the truth of that rejection assumes that dependablity of the same sources. This is just inerrancy in reverse. YOU take the BIble , inerrant or not, as your unimpeachable source for showing it isn’t inerrant.This is just crazy stuff.I have to laugh at you for your pomposity

    • Avatar

      Wow. Just wow.

      “ YOU take the BIble , inerrant or not, as your unimpeachable source for showing it isn’t inerrant.”

      Umm… that’s kinda how if works with any source material. Pick any document, if it contradicts itself, then it has an error.

      Are you trying to claim that proving the bible has errors and contradiction only proves it to
      Be accurate since the bible was used as a source?


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