Talk:Biblical inerrancy/Archive 1

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Aug 2

This would be so much more informative if we knew what these folks mean by "liberal," in their reading, and— especially— "neo-orthodox" (!!). Wetman 23:25, 8 Feb 2004 (UTC)

So let's not merge with liberalism. Makes more sense for inerrancy to stand by itself, and it is not strictly an antonym of liberalism even though they are opposed. 00:52, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

To do: More Info about Chicago Statement. Info also about Westminster Confession, Anglican 39 articles to show that Biblical Innerancy was a standard position of the historical protestant church. What about info on Modern Reformation (Michael Horton et al) statement that adds a bit on hermeneutics.

Also good to have some examples of how modernist thinking of Biblical errors in 19th century were eventually disproven by archaeology (eg Jesus was mythical figure, Pontius Pilate didn't exist, NT written in 2nd or 3rd century AD etc)

One Salient Oversight 01:18, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

scripture -> inspired?

Hi, it's good to see some pro-inerrancy arguments here, but regarding this diff, I'm not clear how "the author held Paul's words to be equivalent to scripture" supports the assertion that the New Testament is internally consistent in its view of itself as divinely inspired. It seems like that argument rests on the assertion that the New Testament means "divinely inspired" whenever it says "scripture." And even given that, the verse in question does not help show the assertion, it just shows that the author of Peter thought Paul was part of some specific body of scripture. It could be that you are trying to say something like this:

=Because scholars believe (XXX I don't know that this is true, back it up if you say it) that when the writers of the New Testament (or more specifically, the writer of 2 Peter) talked about the word scripture, they/he meant a divinely inspired body of work, it is important to find out which books were referred to by other books as scripture. 2 Peter refers to Paul's works as scripture, and this is held by inerrantists (sic) to mean that Paul's works, as a body are scripture. Similar references are shown for book X, Y, and Z.

It's kind of a sweet argument, you narrow down the actual scope of divine inspiration to 1 or 13 people and then spin the web of inspiration from there, delving for references where they each talk about each other until you show that all of them are divinely inspired *if* the first 13 are divinely inspired. Is that what you mean at its base? Is that a typical argument?

I think at some point we're going to have to somehow decide what arguments are typical and throw the rest out, on both sides of the aisle. This is not a philosophy site or a place for original research and argument; it's an encyclopedia article. Don't worry about it too much for now, just don't add stuff that you just thought up :)

Jkeiser 02:41, Aug 2, 2004 (UTC)

Hi, I think I understand what you're heading for. I suppose the idea I was putting forward was that while 2 Tim 3:16, in context, refers to the Old Testament, Peter held that Paul's writing was in the same league. As I understand it, the Jews in Palestine 2000 years ago viewed the Old Testament as divinely inspired. So, the argument goes, if Peter thought Paul's words were scripture then the early church viewed the NT writings by Paul (and probably Peter) as divinely inspired as well.

I heard this argument years ago in a theological lecture, so it's certainly not an original piece of research on my part. I have also seen it in theological textbooks. From a purely philosophical point of view it does not prove inerrancy in any way, but it does give a few more verses that back up 2 Timothy 3:16, and by doing so adds to the internal consistency.

But hey, this is Wikipedia. Feel free to modify my work if you feel that it is too NPOV. One Salient Oversight 02:58, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

OK, now I understand your point--either you can modify the paragraph, or I will if you don't. I didn't think it was NPOV, just I didn't understand what the argument was going about. I am now curious if the argument I mentioned is one of the major ones though, it'd be a peach :) Jkeiser 03:59, Aug 2, 2004 (UTC)

Removal of Jeremiah 8:8 argument

I removed this part of the "anti" section for the following reasons.

1. It is illogical to use an argument out of the Bible, based upon its infallibility, and then use that so called infallible word as proof that it is not inflallible. It's akin to saying "God appeared to me one day and told me that God didn't exist - I course I beleived him because God said it. So that's why I don't believe in God". Same sort of logic here.

2. The quoted verse is out of context. Verse 8 says "How can you say 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us?' But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie". If you take the verse out of its context and then interpert it in a totally subjective manner then you can make the verse say anything - including the idea that the prophet Jeremiah believed that what is written in the Old Testament is a lie. This seems to totally ignore verse 9 which says "The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?". This clearly indicates that Jeremiah had harsh words to say about irreligious intellectuals, not the original Biblical authors, because he then speaks about these people rejecting God's word - which is what is revealed in the Old Testament anyway.

3. More out of context stuff. Jeremiah 9:13 says "Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it..." (God eventually condemns them in 9:15-16) The law here is clearly associated with God's word. This fact easily disproves any argument that Jeremiah 8:8 is an explicit (or implicit) attack on the human authors of the Old Testament.

4. And, put simply, there was no detail in the argument at all. Simply a quick statement, a quote from the Bible, and nothing more. That will not do for an encyclopedia article.

One Salient Oversight 10:59, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)

While this is an interesting argument, it does overlook one salient point: books in the day of Jeremiah had to be copied, and when people copy documents, changes occur. The fact that Jeremiah says that these people will get what is coming to them does not contradict what he said in Jeremiah 8:8.

It might seem outlandish to suggest that the Biblical documents could be changed, there is, in fact, evidence that this has happened in some places. One of these places is Genesis 21:9, where the Masoretic text says that Ishmael was playing while all the ancient translations say that Ishmael was playing with Isaac. Why is this apparently innocent reference missing from the Masoretic text? Could it have something to do with the fact that the word used for 'play' has sexual connotations, and so a scribe removed this shocking idea from holy writ? This is only one of several interesting anomalies that scholars have noted in the sacred text.
Interestingly, when Jesus referred to the laws in the Torah he simply said "You have heard that it was said..." He then went on to say something different. So Jesus did not treat the letter of the law as if it was immutable.
Michael Glass
Michael, thank you very much for your response. I have some responses of my own to make.
1. Are the scribes who copy the Old Testament the ones being attacked in Jeremiah 8:8? A wider reading of verse 8 and verse 9 together suggests that these people were more generic "Wise men". In other words, Jeremiah was attacking a spiritually dead intellectual elite, not specifically those people who copied the OT. The word saphar often refers to people who are secretaries. Ezra (Ezra 7:6) was also described as a scribe.
2. I think you have some good material about Genesis 21:9. Although I disagree with it I believe that it is worthy of inclusion in the article. Not so much the idea about sexual stuff but just the idea that biblical documents appear to have been changed.
One Salient Oversight 22:21, 26 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Thank you for your gracious response. There are several issues to be dealt with in regard to textual challenges and the belief in Biblical inerrancy. If the Bible is without error, does this apply to the original documents only or does it apply to the copies of these documents, even when they are marred by scribal errors? If part of the Bible was compiled from separate documents, where in this process does the Biblical material become free from error? Is the Masoretic text of the Old Testament free from error, or can it be corrected from ancient translations such as the Septuagint, which predates the time of Jesus? If the Masoretic text can be corrected, how far does the Masoretic text fall short of inerrancy?

Finally, does this matter? Is the above discussion merely an academic quibble about a minute number of texts in a vast book or does it have wider significance? It's an interesting question.

Michael Glass 30 August 2004

The Postmodern Christian section

The author of this addition to the text raised some very good points that should be included in the article. However I did not feel that it was appropriate to have this stuff at the very beginning. So I moved it to the end of the article and gave it a heading of its own. It is probably not good there either - but I will leave that for others to work out.

I also NOPVed the language a bit and added some of my own stuff as a counterbalance, simply because the content was too assertive one direction. It does, however, contain some very good ideas that should probably be explored more deeply as this article gets developed. One Salient Oversight 10:19, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I've removed this text from the section on Postmodern views:
"However, it is also likely that the writers of the Chicago Statement believed that the reconstructions themselves were also supervised by the Holy Spirit, thus making them inerrant despite the fact that they were copies of the original autograph."
I don't believe that anyone working on the Chicago Statement would reach this far. Textual Criticism is not considered an inspired science. The paragraph after it probably also has some questionable material in it, but off the top of my head I'm not sure what to say about it. Maybe later when I have a good book on Biblical Hermeneutics handy.
Speaking of the Postmodern section, I would like to see more discussion of McLaren's views on this subject, and those of the larger emerging church movement. These developments are so recent though that talking about them may just be adding fluff to the article rather than actually clarifying anything.
What the article really needs is a good discussion of the developments of Jack Rogers at Fuller Theological Seminary that led to the formulating of the doctrine of Infallibility, and how that differs from Inerrancy. Likewise, some history of Lindsell's seminal work, the formation of the ICBI, and the drafting of the Chicago Statement would be in order, as well as some discussion of why Fuller specifically rejects Inerrancy in favor of Infallibility.
Michaelh 18:56, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Why is there a cleanup header on this page?

Can anyone determine why there's a cleanup tag on this page? It looks fine to me. - RedWordSmith 18:01, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)

Opinion - External links?

I would like to solicit your opinions on the best way to arrange the external links. I don't know if there are any Wikipedia "style" guidelines in this area. It seems to me the best way to keep our point of view out is to simply arrange them alphabetically. Points can be made for arranging in order of importance, but that view of "importance" can get back into one's point of view. Perhaps it doesn't matter that much here since the links are divided between "pro" and "con". Thoughts? - Rlvaughn 14:07, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Isn't the fact that the Christian Bible seems to occasionally contradict itself a problem with inerrancy? E.g., Judas returned the money and hanged himself (According to Matthew, I believe), or Judas bought a piece of land with the money and committed suicide by throwing himself on it, according to Acts) I couldn't find this point in the article. --Goethean 01:35, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

There isn't actually any disparity between the two accounts. In Matthew 27.3-10, Judas brings back the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and throws it into the temple. He then went off and hung himself. The priests then used the money to purchase "the potter's field" as a burial place for stangers, which was then called "The Field of blood". Acts 1.18-19 is shorter, and states that "this man bought a field with reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and his bowels gushed out." The place where Judas did this is then named "the Field of Blood". John Stott, a conservative commentator who does believe in inerrancy points out three important things about the two accounts that could indicate harmony:
  1. The manner of Judas' death "It is perfectly possible to suppose that after he had hanged himself, his dead body either fell headlong, assuming the rope or tree branch broke, or 'swelled up', and in either case ruptured."
  2. The question of who bought the field? "It is reasonable to answer that both (priests and Judas) did, the priests entering into the transaction, but with money belonging to Judas."
  3. The field being named "The Field of Blood" "Matthew's answer is that it was bought by 'blood money', Luke gives no explicit reason, but implies that it was because Judas' blood was spilled there. Evidentally different traditions developed as to how the field got its name, so that different people called it 'Blood Field' for different reasons."
(Source: The Message of Acts, John R.W. Stott, IVP, 1990, pp 55-56)
It is also important to check out article 13 from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which gives room for certain small "problems" in scripture.--One Salient Oversight 04:20, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Problems with Omniscience and Omnipotence, demons related to natural cauases in the NT stories.

Problems with stories if inspiration is not flawless, omnipotence and omniscience imply god is by definition incapable of error unless it's intentional, and if its intentional then you have problems for god being sloppy on purpose since it requires no effort or time for god to do anything. If as the christians believe, their god is omnipotent, if this his the case by the definitions of omniscience and omnipotence there is no room for any error in any work that is god inspired, otherwise god looks like he's doing a half-ass job to save humanity and intentionally being sloppy and evil by introducing error by allowing it directly or indirectly by human beings.

Sorry for butting in here, But isn't Mathew 8 a direct refutation of the inspiration of the bible regardless of whether you're a liberal or not? How can almighty god (if you're trinitarian) or Jesus (if you're unitarian) excise demons / False gods that don't exist? Even most liberal christians would agree christ would have to exist to make their religion and its promises in an objective sense, valid. Also problem with gods omnipotence arise as well: How can a god fail to teach everyone capable correctly about history and himself given that he can solve all possible problems the first try and in any manner (violent or nonviolent)? Why would there need to be to kill mankind with a flood if god is omniscient? Also, the NT Jesus believed moses wrote the torah, and Adam and moses are mentioned in the same sentence when referring to how death reigned from adam to moses, if Jesus (god himself) claims to believe moses wrote the scriptures, and moses (a real person by the character of christs authority in the text) and adam are mentioned in the same sentence, how does one reconcile the liberal view of being a christian? -- Anonymous user

These are of course difficult questions to answer, having to do with such things as semantics, unshared definitions, and cultural understandings. But this space is to discuss the article, so I would urge to to go to a place like or other suitable forum to work out and clarify your differences with others. -- Anonymous reply to Anonymous user


Is there any reason this article does not contain section on which Christian denominations require belief in biblical inerrancy, which take a neutral position, and which reject the doctrine? The article mentions the views of Methodism, but I didn't see anything on other denominations. -- Temtem 00:12, Jun 25, 2005 (UTC)

This is an excellent question. There are articles on inerrancy, evangelicalism, and fundamentalism, but none of them seem to indicate just which denominations are in each category. --Blainster 02:45, 18 September 2005 (UTC)
That's because these are not necessarily "denominational" movements. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 03:59, 18 September 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I agree, but a number of denominations do self-identify with these terms. It would be helpful to know which denominations do so. Does the Chicago Statement only represent individuals and not denominations? If so, it cannot carry as much influence as if the individuals were signing on behalf of their denominations. The article states "Signers are from conservative Reformed and Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Baptist denominations", so just which ones are they? Surely it is not a secret! --Blainster 04:27, 19 September 2005 (UTC)
It's not a secret, it's just not necessarily accurate to say that the signers represent those denominations. The National Association of Evangelicals asserts that the Bible is "the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God". If "infallibility" is identical to "inerrancy", as it seems at first that it is, then the list of members is a partial list of "inerrantist" denominations. But, you will find in that list a number of denominations coordinated for action, not doctrine. You will also find an uneven understanding of what inerrancy means if these denominations represent it.
As for the signers themselves, many of them represent positions contrary to their own denominations. Off the top of my head, J.I. Packer, for example, is an evangelical Anglican. You would hardly on that account say that the Church of England signs onto the statement on inerrancy. Carl Henry was, I believe, a communicant in the Northern Baptist Church - a (somewhat) liberal denomination, by some measures. Bruce Waltke is also a Baptist of some kind, although a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Other individuals are members of more "conservative denominations" (by some measure). Gordon Fee is a professor at Regent College, and is affiliated with the Assemblies of God. R.C. Sproul is in the Presbyterian Church in America. James Boice was for some years in the PCUSA, I think; until the congregation removed to the Presbyterian Church in America.
Does that help? — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 06:45, 19 September 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, this does help. The NAE reference you provided is along the lines of what I was looking for. It gives an actual list of churches asserting the evangelical label. One suggestion: the NAE quote about infallibility you provided is not in the NAE article, and if added (perhaps with other basic tenets) would help to solidify the relationship between the two. Perhaps the NAE article should also have a link to the evangelicalism article. --Blainster 12:47, 19 September 2005 (UTC)
Can we get a list of Christian groups or churches that do not require belief in biblical inerrancy? -- eyei3
It might be easier to compile a list of those groups which do require inerrancy, since it's a minority position in Christendom. What groups do? KHM03 19:29, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

TO: MDuffy

You keep putting the 2/3 of Bible scholars don't believe the Pauline Epistles were written by Paul. You have no citations. Please support this statement if you choose to post it. Also, please put it in the CON-Bible inerrancy section and not the Pro section. There is no sense making the page confusing and disorganized. --ken 19:20, 16 August 2005 (UTC)kdbuffalo

Views affirming inerrancy, or value?

In making a few changes to improve the reading, it has become apparent to me that some of the stated views are actually attestations to the value of the biblical text, rather than affirmative evidence for inerrancy. Following the merely weak but understandable argument on "no contradictions" (no neutral party would assert this), the list really goes downhill. There is the ridiculous straw man argument "it would be illogical to believe in inerrancy if the Bible itself disclaimed inerrancy". If I was an inerrancy advocate I would be embarrassed to see that on the page. The view that "trustworthiness of the Bible may simply be accepted on faith" is surely widely held, and thus a valid presentation, but does nothing to advance the argument of evidence of inerrancy. Neither does the undisputed claim of its continuing widespread popularity. Similarly its influence on culture is ismpressive, and perhaps an indication of its cultural, literary, and spiritual value, but that is not evidence of inerrancy. --Blainster 20:29, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree, but I'm not a believer in inerrancy either, so I'm not sure I can answer these concerns. To be honest, I don't quite get the theory, so I won't be much good. KHM03 20:51, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Decapitalize adjective "biblical"

The Bible is a book title and properly capitalized. However when used as an adjective it should not be capitalized. To take a similar example, "Hebrew" is a capitalized when used as a noun, and even when used in an adjectival sense "a Hebrew book" it is still capitalized. But when converted to an actual adjective it is not capitalized: "hebraic literature". The same usage rule should be applied to the Bible. So the form "Bible story" is OK but "biblical literature" reverts to the uncapitalized form. --Blainster 20:29, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Catholic comparison

Compared to Papal Infallibility, the Protestant doctrine of biblical inerrancy does not necessarily imply that any particular traditional interpretation of the Bible is without error.

The comparison is not as relevant as it may appear at first glance, insofar as former is a global view in regards to an institution and a leader, whereas the former regards the Bible solely. --Dpr 11:59, 7 November 2005 (UTC)