Many people misunderstand the doctrine of inerrancy, so I thought I would try to clear up some of the confusion.
The doctrine of inerrancy teaches that whatever the Bible affirms to be true, is true. Put another way, nothing that the Bible affirms is false. Inerrancy basically means “without error.” If the Bible teaches that Jesus was an actual historical figure who came back from the dead three days after he was killed, then we believe that really happened. If the Bible teaches that the nation of Israel escaped Egypt through a series of miracles of God performed through a man named Moses, then we believe that really happened.
God, in essence, made sure that the truths He wanted to be communicated by the various human authors of the Bible were successfully and truthfully communicated. Nothing the human authors wrote was false or mistaken. Inerrancy affirms that God does not make mistakes. Here is a simple syllogism:
- God does not err.
- The Bible is the Word of God.
- Therefore the Bible does not err.
If you deny inerrancy, then you admit either that God errs or that the Bible is not the Word of God. Take your pick.
When we refer to the Bible in any discussion of inerrancy, we are always referring to the original writings in the original languages, or the autographa. We are not referring to any copies made of the original writings.
What about errors in the copies of the Bible manuscripts? It is true that there are copyist errors that accumulated over 1,300 years of New Testament copying and 2,700 years of Old Testament copying. These errors amount to an approximate 99% accuracy for today’s Greek New Testament and an approximate 95% accuracy for the Hebrew Old Testament.
However, Christians who believe in inerrancy don’t use these errors as an escape hatch. We believe that the teachings of the Bible are mostly intact in our present-day translations, and the verses where scholars are unsure of the original writing are clearly marked in footnotes.
A person can learn everything they need to know about God’s revelation by reading a good modern translation. The doctrine of inerrancy gives us the assurance that God’s Word in the Bible can be counted on.