The Irrelevancy of Inerrancy / Infallibility

Inerrancy is the doctrine that the scriptures, in their original manuscripts, are accurate and totally free from error of any kind and do not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.

Infallibility is the belief that what the scriptures say regarding matters of faith and practice is wholly useful and true and that the scriptures are completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose.

(Thanks, Wikipedia, for the definitions.)

Since people believe different varieties or combinations of inerrancy and infallibility regarding the scriptures, in this post I will collectively refer to these concepts as “inerribility.”

Inerribility has not always been something believers thought (or cared) about. There have been long periods (especially prior to the canonization of scripture) where the question of inerribility was insignificant. In fact, formal doctrines of inerribility have only appeared in the past two centuries. Their appearances are largely due to the veracity of biblical texts increasingly being questioned in the 18th and 19th centuries (for example the literal interpretation of the creation account and the worldwide flood). The scriptures themselves, however, never claim to be inerrible. Inerribility is a concept devised purely by man in reaction to criticism.

But even if the original writings were inerrible, it doesn’t matter to us because our transcriptions, translations, interpretations, and applications can err and are fallible. Its inerribility (if it indeed is) could never be extended to anything we could do or say about what is written. Ultimately, the scriptures cannot be used in an “absolute” way as an authoritative basis for truth because our use of it is necessarily subjective. Thus, such doctrine can serve no useful purpose.

But here’s a useful doctrine for ya: Jesus is inerrible. I don’t mean the things written about Jesus, but the person himself. And this idea, although not stated in the way I have, is supported historically as well as biblically, unlike biblical inerribility.

Sweet, inerrant, infallible Jesus. LOL!

*****

Also see:

The Bible Isn’t Perfect And It Says So Itself
http://theamericanjesus.net/?p=9781

Christians have not been ‘reading the Bible this way for 2,000 years’
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/11/24/christians-have-not-been-reading-the-bible-this-way-for-2000-years/

‘Inerrancy’ is not a victimless crime
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/08/18/inerrancy-is-not-a-victimless-crime/

Rob Bell on inerrancy
http://robbellcom.tumblr.com/post/69544141858/what-is-the-bible-part-21-in-air-in-sea

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4 thoughts on “The Irrelevancy of Inerrancy / Infallibility

  1. Darn another blog I have to leave. Good title supernatural gospel. That’s what it would be some weak document that is just like any other thing fickle man created. Why put your energy into weakening the gospel.

    • Not sure what you are saying, Holly. You didn’t mention anything I wrote. Is there something I wrote that bothered you and that you would like to address? Or perhaps you are assuming I believe something from what I wrote – for example that the scriptures are no different than any other book (which I don’t believe). I only see myself strengthening the gospel by declaring the greatness of Jesus instead of a book about him, because Jesus is the gospel, the good news.

  2. Pingback: What I Am Not Saying | Supernatural Gospel

  3. Pingback: The Violent God of the Old Testament | Supernatural Gospel

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