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Biblical inerrancy is the doctrine that the Bible is completely correct, or at least that it was completely correct in the original manuscripts.
This belief is surprisingly common, especially among fundamentalists.
- There are many contradictions in the Bible, many of them very hard to dispute. Here is a big list.
- The Bible is clearly inconsistent with scientific observations. The Genesis account of Creation is only the beginning. Take Job 38:22-23 , for example. God is quoted as saying, "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?" We now know how snow and hail form, and it doesn't involve storehouses or war.
- The Bible is at least guilty of glossing over rounding error. By simple arithmetic we can arrive at the Biblical value of pi: three. Not 3.14, not 3.1415926536, not "a little more than three"; simply three.
- Some contradictions, like 2 Kings 8:26 and 2 Chronicles 22:2 , which give different ages for Ahaziah when he began to rule, are, Christians admit, really contradictions that are really in the bible. They have to resort to copyist error or some other similar explanation. This shows that the modern bible is not inerrant. This raises the question of why God inspired the original writers, but not the copyist.
- Apologists claim the Bible is not necessarily inconsistent with scientific observations. Apologetics can spin or interpret the contents of Genesis 1, for instance, through a process known as exegesis, into matching what science has to say in postdiction. It must be noted that the Bible is not a scientific book and should not be taken as such, yet despite that, many Christians attempt to use it as such anyway.
- Contradictions, such as the one afore mentioned regarding Kings and Chronicles, are only contradictions if studied without the exegesis to spin the interpretation as well. The same process of exegesis is frequently used to excuse why contradictions exist between the different Gospels. If each is interpreted in particular ways, one can smooth out such stark differences, such as why Jesus was or was not at the cave when the women came after he resurrected.
- According to the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy, scripture is inerrant in it's autograph. Critically thinking Christians see and recognize problems within scripture, interpolations, deletions, missing manuscripts, etc, and instead will claim that the recent copies and/or translations are in error, while the original texts as written by the original authors are not.
Differing View of Biblical Inerrancy
- Karl Barth, known for advocating a "Neo-Orthodox" view of scripture, presents an attempted solution to counter-apologetics. Within the Neo-Orthodox perspective, both autographs and subsequent copies are understood as containing error, in that they do not always purport truth. Barth's view renounces that the Word of God is in the text (for God's Word must remain inerrant), and in doing so, claims that despite the Bible's being a "broken vessel", it is the vehicle through which God relays his Word. The text contains errors, but when read or preached, the Holy Spirit interprets the true, inerrant meaning to the hearer. This argument also fails because different readers and listeners interpret the same Bible text differently. For example Roman Catholics interpret Matthew 16:18-19 as declaring that Saint Peter and all popes after him have authority to rule the church of Christ while Protestants and Eastern Orthodox churches disagree that the pope has such authority. Contradictions in the interpretation of scripture indicate that no supernatural force is leading all readers and listeners interantly to any correct conclusion.
- The Skeptics Annotated Bible This explains the Roman Catholic view and problems with that view.
- Please explain Matthew 16:18-19. This text has a Protestant explanation.
- Obviously, a book claiming that it is the word of god is a circular reference and does not constitute proof. There is no logical argument beyond that. We can however try to understand how that book came to be assembled, what the original meaning was of the specific passages, and find scripture that that refutes earlier scripture. Circulus in demonstrando
- Timothy 3:16 “The Bible is God breathed” This is the strongest statement in the Bible about where the Bible came from. Translations of the word “breathed” vary and more likely mean something like “inspired”.
- Mark 2:27-28 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Here Jesus is arguing with Jewish authorities about what is allowed on the Sabbath. He is claiming a significant change to the letter and spirit of that law.
- Romans 13:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Paul is claiming a completely new basis for how to interpret the law.
- Acts 15 This chapter is the story of Paul, Peter and others discussing the law of circumcision. They decide that it is a law that no longer needs to be followed.
- Galatians 2 In this chapter, Paul opposes Cephas (another name for Peter) concerning dietary laws and eating with Gentiles. This is in opposition to Mosaic law. In Acts 10, Peter had a vision that is a key passage releasing Christians from the rules of kosher food. Peter and Paul are the highest ranking leaders of the church, and they spar on issues throughout the New Testament.
- Revelations 22:18-19 warns that no man shall add to this “book” or they will be punished. Since the New Testament was not canonized at the time Revelations was written, exactly what “book” is referring to is suspect. Revelations has continued to be a disputed book even after discussions of the canon were complete.
- Jeremiah 31:31-34 speaks of a new covenant. The book of Jeremiah (OT) was written during a time of great political change. This passage is most likely referring to those changes, but it is often referred to in the NT as a prophecy for the coming of Jesus and the changes he would bring. For example Hebrews 8: 6 “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.”
- Deutoronomy 17:8-11 explains what you should do when you have cases that are too difficult for you to judge. This includes going to the Levitical priests. Apparently not everything can simply be looked up in the Bible.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has added a book to the Bible. This puts them in the position of having to argue that the apostles listened to god and wrote scripture and that there are living apostles today. Of course they claim the authority to decide who the apostles are.
- Which translation is inerrant? Translations vary enough to support different doctrines. Political decisions were involved with most translations, especially the King James Version. Canonization of the Christian Bible began after the first century and continued for 200 years. Many people will argue that these facts are not important. Most likely they will not be aware of them.