Is Inerrancy an Essential Christian Doctrine?

Henry posted something the other day which is a continuing conversation which I have not only with others, but with the Scriptures.

Obviously I don’t think so, but I must now add C. Michael Patton to the list of those who do accept the doctrine of inerrancy themselves, yet don’t believe it is an essential of the Christian faith, which he does in his humorous “AND OTHER STUPID STATEMENTS” series, If the Bible is not Inerrant, then Christianity is False.

Dr. Patton lists many of the reasons I have listed as to why the doctrine of inerrancy tends to breed other problems, such as a Christianity that is bibliocentric but not Christocentric.  Now let me be clear that one can actually be both, provided one always is more Christo- then biblio-centric.  One can also lose sight of Christ because one puts too low a value on scripture that points to Him.

I have to say, that as I see it, one of the issues with ‘inerrancy’ is to what level and how it is applied. Some, namely those who falsely believe that the King James Version is the ONLY bible (not counting the fact that the Apostles didn’t write the KJV and no one uses the KJV-1611), believe that one version is inerrant, regardless of the changing nature of textual criticism, or even verbage which changes according to the generation. Others believe that the bible is inspired in its original autographs.

Then, there is the level of inerrancy. Somehow, people insist on taking Genesis 1 as literal science but other statements are not so literal. They view the bible as a science text-book instead of the history of interaction between God and Humanity. Further, they fail to grasp the beauty of Hebrew thought in the poetic passages in the Jewish Scriptures.

Then, of course, one has to take the fact that for centuries, millenia, the idea of Scriptural inerrancy (not authority) is not found as a doctrine fully expressed in the Church.

Finally, there is a very annoying person who has given me an idea of a Christocentric view over that of a Bibliocentric view as found in John. I wish he would go ahead and write his book or at the very least, a blog post.

For myself, I believe that the original autographs were inspired and inerrant in the matters which they touch and were intended; however, Christ is the Revelation of God, and we must not forget that.

Is Inerrancy an Essential Christian Doctrine « Participatory Bible Study Blog.

You might be interested in this post as well.

You Might Also Like

40 Replies to “Is Inerrancy an Essential Christian Doctrine?”

  1. My take: the Bible is perfect in all that it is trying to teach us, but no one person’s hermeneutic, translation, or interpretation is infallible. Scripture is fully trustworthy and so much so that Holy Scripture can endure any hermeneutic or criticism, even hermeneutics of suspicion.

    1. All I can say is, Jason, is that our short conversation had lasting impressions and really clarified things for me when I was struggling with a few things.

    1. Which KJV? The KJV-1611? The Oxford or the the Cambridge (Yes, even today there is a three word difference)? The one with the Deuterocanon or the one without? Um…. (Kidding of course, Steph.)

      I’ve been accused of the very same thing, of being a heretic, since I didn’t use the KJV bible. After all, they tell me, its the only on called ‘Holy Bible.’

    1. True, Jason, but as Ignatius said,

      I therefore have done my own part as a man perfectly established in union. But where there is division and wrath, God dwells not. Therefore the Lord forgives all that repent, if on their repentance they turn to the unity of God and the council of the bishop. I believe in the grace of Jesus Christ, Who shall loose from off you every bond. Moreover, I entreat you, act not in any matter in the spirit of faction, but as disciples of Christ. For I have heard some saying, ‘Except I find it in the archives I believe it not in the Gospel.’ And when I said to them, ‘It is written,’ they answered me, ‘That is the question in dispute.’ But my archives are Jesus Christ; the inviolable archives are His Cross and Death and Resurrection, and the faith which is through Him. In these I desire to be justified through your prayer.

      I think we have to value first Christ as the truly inerrant acknowledging that (New Testament) Scripture came a distance second, further remembering what Paul said –

      And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “LORD, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. (Rom 10:15-17 NLT)

      Christ was found first in the Scriptures – but that was disputable to a lot of people, which is why Ignatius relied on the Revelation of Jesus Christ as did Paul.

      No, I am not saying we ‘get rid’ of Scriptures or fail to measure our doctrine by it, but we shouldn’t build doctrines on something that would be foreign to them. I am thinking more especially of those who believe that the Bible is literally God in book form and others who believe that if they find one error in Scripture, then all of Christianity is wrong.

    2. Let me amend my Scriptural reference above –

      But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Rom 10:14 NLT)

    3. The New Testament teaching is that people meet Jesus through his body—the church, which is his presence on earth. The New Testament itself was written by members of that body as their testimony to him.

      From a modern sociological perspective, I think the notion of people “finding Jesus” first through the Scriptures is questionable at best. People “come to Jesus” through other people. The New Testament was written for and to Christians, not for converting people or introducing them to Jesus. (Likewise, the Hebrew Bible was written to Israelites, not to people converting to or joining Israel.)

      This is one place among many where modern fundamentalist Christianity deconstructs itself, as it has to violate its own text in order to read its text the way it does.

  2. I seem to be following this type of conversation from one blog to another in the last few days.

    Jason A Staples said, ” The New Testament was written for and to Christians, not for converting people or introducing them to Jesus.”

    I think I would have to disagree with you on that Jason. II Timothy 3:15 says:
    “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    That certainly sounds to me like part of the purpose of Scripture is to lead people to salvation by faith in Christ.

    1. The other difference is that in the New Testament, salvation is understood to be future. The language of Evangelical Christianity, where conversion is equated with “getting saved” (such was not the case in the New Testament) has confused the issue. But the New Testament was most certainly written to believers: the Pauline canon is composed of letters to churches or Christian individuals; the Catholic Epistles are all written to churches as a whole; Luke/Acts is written to “Theophilus”; Revelation is ostensibly written to the seven Christian churches listed at the beginning (along with other Christians); and John’s epilogue suggests that it was written to believers also. That leaves Matthew and Mark, each of which also seems to have been written for similar audiences as the others.

      Modern Evangelical Christianity has made a major mistake in thinking that the Bible was written as a sort of “tract,” when in fact it was written to those who had already come to faith through contact with the witness of the Church.

      1. I guess you would be right about the II Timothy verse.

        However, it seems to me that John in his Gospel says specifically that it was written to bring people to the Lord: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-3l

        The Gospels have John the Baptists instructions to unbelievers and they are full of Jesus declarations to people that they must repent and believe.

        And the first verses of Romans 2 seems to be kind of a parenthesis addressed to unbelieving people.

        While the epistles certainly were written specifically to individual Christians or to churches, I don’t think anyone can deny that the Bible has been used very powerfully by God to bring faith and conviction to people–with or without other Christians being involved in the process.

        There may be other Scriptures I could of listed too, I don’t know. Those are the ones that I have seen at the moment. So I simply do not see how it can be said that the New Testament is written only to Christians and is not meant to bring people to the Lord.

Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.