To state something is inerrant indicates it does not confirm any errors, nor does it sanction any untrue thing. Inerrancy has to do with the assertion made by a person or entity. For instance, a human being can make a true statement, but the source of the statement is able to err.
Infallibility means errors are not possible for the entity in question; there is no possibility of inaccuracy of any kind. Infallibility has to do with the one who makes the assertion in whatever form it’s made. The truth as stated by the infallible One (God) is absolute.
In today’s culture, tolerance extends to the truth of history as evidenced by the demolition of war memorials, disavowal of the Holocaust, etc., therefore seeking to negate the truth as it happened. Some people choose to reject things they find offensive or consider “hate speech.” But, as mentioned by one of the distinguished scientists in Is Genesis History, “To cut out history is to make it meaningless.” The misplaced tolerance and distrust extend to the Bible. It is under attack by those who would deny its Author, its infallibility, its commands, and its authority over our lives. As Christians, we hold to the truths and tenets of God’s Word, and we live by the Lord’s commands as outlined in Scripture. As we engage the culture, we need to be able to answer this question: Is the Bible infallible? We will start by asking the following question:
Is the Bible Inerrant?
In a word, yes. The historical accounts and spiritual principles as written in the Bible are factual. For instance, what was said by certain people—such as Cain when he lied to God about not knowing what happened to his brother, Abel (Genesis 4:9b), and the lies of the devil when he told Eve she would not die after disobeying the Lord’s command to not eat from the tree of good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5)—are factual and without reproach. They are deceits, but the Bible in no way validates them. The Bible is inerrant in that it reports exactly what happened and what was said. As critics look into the supposed contradictions in the Bible, we stand firm on what contextual criticism (analysis of the context of a text) affirms, the authenticity and integrity of the Scriptures. The Bible, however, is not unique in being inerrant; people, too, can make inerrant statements (e.g., “my name is Joe.”). The statement, “My name is Joe” is free from error, therefore it is inerrant. Since the two words, inerrancy and infallibility, are close in basic meaning, one goes hand-in-hand with the other when describing the inimitable, truthful nature of the Bible (Proverbs 30:5).
Is the Bible Infallible?
Also, yes. The Bible is exclusive in its infallible nature. It cannot be mistaken about anything; all recorded history and spiritual veracities in Scripture bear full truth; it is incapable of error of any sort. Skeptics will scour the Word seeking any and all perceived inaccuracies. One such indictment comes from doubters who take exception to the biblical accounts of the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. The record of the progression of the reigning kings does not seem to match up when comparing the accounts as written in the books of 1 and 2 Kings. An exhaustive study, however, carried out by Dr. Edwin Thiele titled, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (1983), explains and uncovers the seeming fallacy. As scholars advanced the historical study of ancient Assyria and Babylon, they have been able to discern the accurate timetable of their kings. In one account, the biblical timeline did not match up with their findings. What Dr. Thiele discovered was a difference in calendars used by Judah vs. Israel, which made the discrepancy disappear. Once the calendars were aligned, the kings’ reigns matched up perfectly with what the scholars found.
Year after year, the Bible has withstood the human-centered tests of people such as Voltaire, Darwin, Christopher Hitchens, and various other atheists and scientists who declare the Bible’s claims are untrue. In every case, the Bible is proven true. Every case.
We are also questioned about how we got the Bible, which remains a best-seller and the most
widely distributed book in history. Disparagers will make the accusation that human men wrote the Bible, and it is liable to their fallible nature. Yes, men are fallible, but as it was originally written by the inspired authors in its languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, the Bible is indisputable in its infallibility (just as it is with its inerrancy). God preserved His intended message to us as the Bible has passed through the ages. It has exact uniformity even though it was written by forty men from three different continents over 2000 years.
Men, however, are fallible and liable to make mistakes. Therefore, some people object to the copying process of the Bible. They compare it to the “telephone game,” where a message starts as one thing and is completely different when it gets back to the original sender. This is a false comparison to how the Bible was copied through the years. Unlike the “telephone game,” the copiers were able to go back and consult the original, existing texts and research for clarity. Even one noted critic states the original message of the New Testament can be known using the manuscripts available to us today.
Another argument against the Bible is it’s too old to be reliable, nor is it relevant for today. God made sure what we hold in our hands this day is complete and true for what we need to live a life that pleases Him (2 Peter 1:3). The Bible is a timeless source of wisdom for all walks and stages of life. All people have the same God-designed souls, which means we have the same problem of sin (Romans 3:23), and we have the same solution (Acts 4:12). As such, we have the same God-given blueprint for life because we are all made in His image (Genesis 1:26). The Bible is not a cultural book; it uses people of a different culture to express enduring truths of God and humanity.
The Scriptures we hold in our hands today is a supernatural work of the Lord, faithfully and wholly preserved by Him to give us not only His love letter to us but also the history of the prophets and apostles and His plan of reconciliation for our souls through Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15).
Eyewitness reports abound in the Scriptures, and extra-biblical sources of the first century (Tacitus, Josephus, Pliny the Younger, e.g.) confirm what the Bible presents. Numerous electronic and print resources prove worthy study guides about how we got our Bible, and ministries such as Answers in Genesis provide not only an interactive website but museums that give the visitor hands-on experiences as to the truth and infallibility of the Bible
Why Does This Matter?
If the Bible is fallible, we as Christians have nothing on which to base our beliefs. We can only know God’s character, His plan, or His desires for us and the kingdom through His revelation to us (the Bible); we are incapable of knowing Him by our own effort. We don’t possess the innate ability to discern truth from error regarding God, and if the Bible is mixed with said truth and error, it would be impossible to distinguish what’s true and what’s false.
Imagine watching a person from a distance and trying to know them personally. You can make endless speculations about their behaviors but there would be no reason to think you know them. Only as they get closer and reveal themselves to you can you know who they are. If this is true of people, how much more of God?
We trust God’s attributes—His holiness—and His whole character. He is the very source of truth. He defines our reality by His Word (Colossians 1:16). It is because of this we can trust we possess His unfailing Word. To say the Bible can mislead or deceive someone is like saying God is not Who He says He is.
God shares some of His attributes with His human creation (loving, patient, kind, gracious, etc.), yet God’s very nature is on trial to those who do not believe the Bible is His infallible Word.
God encompasses some attributes which belong to Him alone.
Perfect - (Matthew 5:48).
Independent (Isaiah 40:13-14 – He alone is the source of all wisdom and counsel.)
Immutable and Unchangeable - (Hebrews 13:8 – He will never change.).
Omniscient - (1 John 3:19-20 – God knows everything.)
The above list is not exhaustive, yet it is enough to base our belief in who God is and what He is like. Within all of these truths about God in His Oneness (Deuteronomy 6:4), we can be sure that what He has for us in His Word is true. We have affirmation He would not provide us with a book filled with myths and fallacies. Plus, the Bible never contradicts itself, and it is the best interpreter of itself; context confirms what other passages state.
For years, scientists have sought to defame the account of creation as recorded in Genesis 1-2. But because of the irrefutable evidence, some scientists who formerly rebutted the creation account believe in Intelligent Design. If they are open, the truths they uncover will inevitably point them to God.
The Greek language of John 1:1 declares, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) “Word” here is logos, the second Person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ. He, the Lord Jesus, is the Word of the word (the Bible). In Him, the fullness of the Godhead dwells (Colossians 2:9). The truth of Scripture is verified by our Lord Jesus, Himself. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), and since Jesus is God (John 1:1-2, Colossians 1:15-16), His description of Himself encompasses all Scripture inspired by His Holy Spirit. The Bible has over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that speak of a coming Messiah. Jesus fulfilled every one of them. If this were not so, our hope in what the Bible promises is broken.
It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2), and 2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Inspiration in this passage means “to breathe out;” God is the Originator of Scripture. A statement made by many biblical scholars underscores the first word in 2 Timothy 3:16; All means all and that’s all, all means. Since all Scripture is God’s Word, it cannot be fallible, and it’s true for every person’s life.
In Matthew 4:4, Jesus asserts to the devil, man is to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Indeed, His statement designates marching orders for every Christian. All wisdom for every situation may be found in the Bible (James 1:5-6), for “every word” by which we are to live may be found in the Scriptures.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Sergio Yoneda
Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody. She writes fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis.
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