Biblical inerrancy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is considered accurate and totally free of error. Within Christianity, some mainstream Evangelical and Protestant groups adhere to the current inerrancy of Scripture as it reads today. Additionally, some faith groups, to include the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), believe the Bible is without error only in original form.

The term "inerrancy" is often used by conservative theologians in all religions: in Judaism to refer to the Torah; in Christianity to refer to the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, also known to Christians as the Old and New Testaments; in Islam to refer to the Qur'an, and in other religions to refer to their own holy books. Because the holy books of the world differ from each other, only one of them ─ by implication ─ can truly be inerrant. Some people suggest that none are inerrant.

Some literalist or conservative Christians teach that the Bible is without error in every way on all sorts of matters: chronology, history, biology, sociology, psychology, politics, physics, math, art, and so on. The sense of inerrancy that is most in line with Christian tradition means that the Scriptures are always right (do not err) in fulfilling their purpose: revealing God, God's vision, God's purposes, and God's good news to humanity.

Mainstream Judaism and Christian traditions hold that the books of the Bible were physically written by Divinely-inspired human beings - not God Himself. According to this position, God spoke through select people to reveal His purpose, character and plan for humanity. However the Bible does record some direct statements from God (i.e. "Thus says the Lord...", "And God said"..., etc.).


As a result of the scientific and technological revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, various episodes of the Bible (for example the Noahide worldwide flood, the creation in six days, and the creation of women from a man's rib) have in scientific circles been recognised as legendary. This led to an increasing questioning as to the veracity of Biblical texts. According to an article in Theology Today published in 1975, "There have been long periods in the history of the church when biblical inerrancy has not been a critical question. It has in fact been noted that only in the last two centuries can we legitimately speak of a formal doctrine of inerrancy. The arguments pro and con have filled many books, and almost anyone can join in the debate."

In the 1970s and '80s, however, the debate in theological circles, which centered on the issue of whether or not the Bible was infallible or both infallible and inerrant, came into the spotlight. Some notable Christian seminaries, such as Princeton Theological Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary, were formally adopting the doctrine of infallibility while rejecting the doctrine of inerrancy.

The other side of this debate focused largely around the magazine Christianity Today and the book entitled The Battle for the Bible by Harold Lindsell. The author asserted that losing the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture was the thread that would unravel the church. Conservative Christians rallied behind this idea, agreeing that once sola scriptura Christians disregard the ultimate truthfulness of the Bible, anything can become justifiable.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Biblical inerrancy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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