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Is the Doctrine of Inerrancy an Essential Doctrine of Christianity?

I recently posted on the essential doctrines of Christianity, and I left out a doctrine that probably surprised many traditional Christians: inerrancy

The reason I left this doctrine out is because I was defining an essential doctrine as one that must be true for salvation.  A person does not have to believe that the Bible is inspired by God, and therefore inerrant, in order to be saved.  Many people have been saved in the history of the world without ever reading a Bible and even knowing what the word inerrant means.

However, the doctrine of inerrancy is an essential doctrine in another way.  If the Bible is not inerrant, then we lose our confidence in the doctrines that must be true for our salvation.  The Bible teaches that Christ is God, that He died on a cross for our sins, and that He was resurrected.  If the Bible has errors in it, then how can we know that these things are true?

Whenever I meet people who deny inerrancy, but they firmly believe Christ died for their sins, I ask them how they know that those verses in the Bible talking about Christ dying for their sins are true.  Maybe those are the very verses that are in error!  I have never heard a reasonable answer to this question.

Inerrancy provides the foundation for our knowing the revelation of God.  If you don’t affirm inerrancy, you can’t be sure of  the very gospel you claim to believe.  Inerrancy is the firm ground we stand on to affirm everything we believe about God.  Take it away, and you have two feet planted firmly in thin air.


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Comments

  • http://www.calebandsol.com Caleb & Sol

    Interesting thoughts. To Jesus Christ be the glory forever!

    -Sol
    http://www.calebandsol.com

  • Ray A

    Hi Billy,

    I really like your final paragraphs:
    “Inerrancy provides the foundation for our knowing the revelation of God. If you don’t affirm inerrancy, you can’t be sure of the very gospel you claim to believe. Inerrancy is the firm ground we stand on to affirm everything we believe about God. Take it away, and you have two feet planted firmly in thin air.”

    And so, I consider the inerrancy of the Bible an essential Christian doctrine.

    Great job on the blog!

    Soli Deo Gloria!
    To God Alone the Glory!

    Thanks,
    -Ray

  • http://nitwitnastik.wordpress.com nitwit nastik

    “Inerrancy is the firm ground we stand on to affirm everything we believe about God. Take it away, and you have two feet planted firmly in thin air.”

    I disagree. The Bible is full of contradictions and factual or scientific errors. I recently wrote a post discussing how apologists try to avoid these inacuracies.

    http://nitwitnastik.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/errors-inconsistencies-and-contradictions-in-the-bible/

  • nitwitnastik

    I disagree. The bible is full of absurdities, atrocities, inconsistencies and vulgarities. I recently wrote apost discussing how apologists try to avoid these.

    http://nitwitnastik.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/errors-inconsistencies-and-contradictions-in-the-bible/

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Bill,

    Please consider some thoughts:

    - I don’t like the word “inerrancy” because I believe it drives the discussion to minor issues and away from major ones. Note that people who argue against inerrancy, such as Bart Ehrman, virtually always do so on the basis of details, not of major points in the Bible’s narrative of events. Instead, I like to focus on the Bible being the word of God. If someone accepts it as the word of God, inerrancy is implicit.

    - Encouraging someone to believe that the Bible is the word of God (or inerrant) in order to believe that Jesus is Lord is, I think, getting the cart before the horse. We don’t believe that Jesus is Lord because the Bible is the word of God; rather, we believe the Bible is the word of God because Jesus is Lord (and He regarded the Bible as the word of God). This approach has the advantage of keeping faith in the lordship of Christ as the primary issue, and also protects the new Christian against the accusation of circular reasoning.

    - As to your concern about leaving the believer with his two feet planted firmly in thin air, you don’t need the Bible to be inerrant or even the word of God for someone to put faith in Christ. All you need is for the Bible to be historically reliable. That is, the Bible does not have to be any more historically reliable to declare faith in Christ than the Illiad or the Odyssey have to be historically reliable to write a book report on them for a high school literature class. If you can catch the plot of the Illiad or Odyssey by reading them you can recognize that Jesus is the promised Messiah by reading the Bible. Just as easily as you can write the book report you can acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Then, because Jesus regarded Scripture as the word of God which cannot be broken, you can do the same – and build your life on its truths, just as Jesus built His life on those truths..

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I agree completely.

  • Jaime L. Alviola

    Inerrancy is the glue that keeps a Christian from wandering into errancy and disbelief of the Word of God.

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