Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible

Quadruple combination opened to the Book of Is...
Quadruple combination opened to the Book of Isaiah – note the cross references between Biblical and Latter-day Saint scripture in the footnotes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting to love some of the material on various blogs over at Patheos – especially when they deal with Religion, Religious philosophy, the Bible, and Religious History. This particular gem comes from Peter Enns via Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible.

Enns discusses the danger’s of holding to the false idealism of Biblical inerrancy. As Latter-day Saints, we do revere the Bible as the Word of God, however, there are instances where empirical evidence has shown particular changes, lost books, minor and major textual variances, as well as serious questions raised by textual criticism within the Old and New Testament. Despite this, many modern-day evangelical Christians hold to the notion that there is no single evidence of contradiction, change, or missing books of the Bible. It is not until young Christian men and women enter into a College Seminary where they learn textual criticism and end up losing their faith in the Bible and even in God.

The Bible is the book of God for the people of God. It reveals and conceals; is clear, yet complex; open to all, but impossible to master.

It is, from beginning to end, a product of the cultures that produced it, and still able to comfort and convict across cultures and across time. It is also a book that tells a grand narrative by means of divergent points of view and different theologies. It tells of God’s acts, but also reports some events that either may not have happened, or that have been shaped and transformed by centuries of tradition.

It presents us with portraits of God and of his people that at times comforts and confirms our faith, and at others times challenges and stretches our faith to its breaking point.

This is the Bible we have, the Bible God gave us. “Inerrancy,” regardless of how the term is defined, does not capture the Bible’s character complex dynamics. Inerrancy sells the Bible—and God—short.

Speaking as a biblical scholar, inerrancy is a high-maintenance doctrine. It takes much energy to “hold on to” and produces much cognitive dissonance. I am hardly alone. Over the last twenty years or so, I have crossed paths with more than a few biblical scholars with evangelical roots, even teaching in inerrantist schools, who nervously tread delicate paths re-defining, nuancing, and adjusting their definition of inerrancy to accommodate the complicating factors that greet us at every turn in the historical study of Scripture.

As Enns points out, many who hold to the inerrancy doctrine, become angered at the notion that one is “Discrediting” the authenticity of the Bible. To them, and from their perception, it is the logical fallacy that if the Bible has errors, then it cannot be authentic and therefore we are unable to trust. This is not what some scholars are saying. What they are saying is that because of the discoveries of textual varying manuscripts, recent discoveries in Biblical Archaeology, and a study of textual criticism, there are some significant changes and even contradictions within the Bible that must take into consideration. This does not deny its authenticity, nor attack the Bible as the Word of God or Holy Writ.

However, to them, it is all or nothing and the reason some who enter seminary tend to leave agnostic or even atheistic when confronted with textual criticism.

5 thoughts on “Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible

    1. M. Rodriguez,

      Thank you and you are very welcome. Your article is definitely a good source of information on this subject matter, and provides additional support as to why Biblical Inerrancy is no longer a viable belief.

      One person pointed out that those who hold to the Sola Scriptoria are also the ones that hold to Biblical Inerrancy.

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