Is the Bible Inerrant?

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Image by Stephen Radford. Adapted for Redemption of Humanity. Used under licence.

The Bible’s Answer

Introduction

Before answering this question, let’s first define the word “inerrant”. Inerrant describes something that is completely free from errors and mistakes. Accordingly, biblical inerrancy is a Christian doctrine which teaches that the Bible is completely free from error. While the vast majority of Christians affirmed this in the past, there are many Christian denominations and movements within denominations nowadays which advocate for a position against biblical inerrancy, teaching that while the Bible is trustworthy in matters pertaining to salvation and spiritual living, it does contain some errors. So, which is correct?

Scripture Cannot Be Broken

When we look at the teachings of Scripture, it is clear that biblical inerrancy is the correct teaching. The Bible is full of passages which affirm that the Word of God is free from mistakes. Take, for example, what Jesus said to the Jews after his sermon on the Good Shepherd. The Jews wanted to stone him for claiming to be God’s Son, and in response, Jesus quoted an Old Testament passage which employs sarcasm by calling unjust judges gods, in the sense that although they are in positions similar to God, they are still nothing compared to him because they will one day die in their sins. Jesus then asked them if God’s Word calls people “gods”, why couldn’t he claim to be God’s Son?

But note that after quoting the Old Testament, Jesus said: “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). In other words, Scripture cannot be changed or corrupted. Jesus could appeal to the authority of the Bible because it is God’s changeless words that have been given to us—something that the Jews could not question. Because of this, we also cannot question the Scripture’s authority; God’s words are absolute. To deny biblical inerrancy is to say that at some point God’s words were somehow changed or corrupted so that they could contain errors, in contradiction to what Jesus taught.

All Scripture Is God-breathed

Take also, for example, what Paul said to his young disciple, Timothy: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Here, Paul says that all Scripture, that is, both the Old and New Testament, are God-breathed, i.e. came from God. Because of this important fact, they can be used to teach, reprove, correct, and train others. To deny biblical inerrancy is to say that when God breathed out these Scriptures, he made some mistakes in the process. Would we dare say that?

The Bible Is God’s Word

Another example is all the instances in which the Bible says that “the word of the Lord” came to someone. Take Isaiah 38, for example: “Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.” (Isaiah 38:5-7) It is clear that God’s own words are free from error, because he is perfect. To deny biblical inerrancy is to say that whenever the Bible says “Thus says the Lord”, it is not actually the Lord who is speaking, since these words might contain errors, but simply the words of the biblical author. But if the Lord is not really speaking, even though the Bible says he is, how can we trust anything the Bible says?

God’s Words Remain Forever

Another example is what Scripture says about God’s words remaining forever. Isaiah said: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8) Furthermore, Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) Therefore, we must ask ourselves the following question: does the Bible contain God’s and Christ’s words? If biblical inerrancy is denied, then you have to say no, meaning that the aforementioned Scriptures have failed to come true, and that the Father and Christ were not able to keep their promises. If, however, the Bible does contain God’s and Christ’s words, then they must be free from error.

All Prophecies of Scripture Came from the Holy Spirit

Yet another example is what Peter wrote in his second letter: “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) Many people think of prophecies as being predictions of future events, yet in biblical usage prophecies mostly refer to the forthtelling of God’s revelations or messages by divinely inspired people, as well as the proclamation of the Gospel.

According to this passage, none of the prophecies contained in the Bible are simply someone’s interpretation or opinion, i.e. the biblical authors’, but each of them came from God himself, who spoke through men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Because Peter attributes every prophecy of Scripture to God by the power of the Holy Spirit, this means that none of them can contain error. To deny biblical inerrancy is to say that the prophecies of Scripture did not come from God by the power of the Holy Spirit, but merely from the interpretation and will of the biblical authors, and therefore can contain errors, in contradiction to what Peter said.

God’s Word Is Truth

One final example is that the Bible says that God’s Word is truth. Psalm 119:160 says: “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures for ever.” 2 Samuel 7:28 says: “And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.” In his High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prayed to the Father: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) If God’s Word is truth then it can’t contain any falsehood, including errors. Yet those who deny biblical inerrancy have to admit that the Bible does contain falsehood, in contradiction to the fact that all of God’s words are true.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we have ample scriptural evidence to show that the Bible is inerrant—absolutely free from any error and mistake. But accepting this truth is a matter of the heart, not the mind. Very often people think in their 21st century mindsets that because of modern science and technology they know better about certain things than the Word of God, and that the Bible can’t be right about everything because it’s so old. Yet what they forget is that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) The Bible is a living, timeless book in which God himself communicates with us to this day; he knows much more than we do.

Furthermore, some people are not willing to accept the Bible’s inerrancy because it would then make it much harder to continue holding to certain non-biblical doctrines that appeal to them. After all, it’s very common for groups that deny the Bible’s inerrancy to also affirm other anti-biblical teachings like the accepting of homosexuality, abortion, Darwinian evolution, and women’s ordination, since they have a very low view of Scripture. It should be no surprise that one false doctrine leads to another, because the Scripture warns: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9) But for those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who put God’s will above their own, accepting the inerrancy of the Bible is easy; it is as simple as trusting and believing in the clear and plain words of Scripture. They are like the Psalmist of Psalm 119, who said:

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. 101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. 102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:97-104)

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