The Bible Isn’t Perfect And It Says So Itself

Biblical Inerrancy
If you blog long enough, someone will eventually call you a heretic.

Self-appointed orthodoxy watchdogs plague the internet almost as much as porn.

Say something outside their particular theological tradition and they’ll damn your soul to an eternity in hell as fast as you can click “publish” on your blog post.

My latest accusation of heresy came last week on Twitter. My theological crime?

I don’t believe in Biblical inerrancy.

I tried pointing out to my inquisitor that Biblical inerrancy is a 20th century fundamentalist invention, not something which is actually intrinsic to the Christian tradition, but things like “facts” and church history are but minor inconveniences to the religious zealot.

Sure, heresy might technically mean a “breaking away from traditional dogma” and thus a new doctrine like inerrancy which breaks with the church’s traditional dogmatic approach to Scripture (going all the way back to the early fathers) would technically be heresy.

And sure, establishing your claim as a truer (i.e. “fundamental”) form of Christianity over and against virtually all those who came before you would put you squarely in Joseph Smith and the Latter-Day Saints territory.

But I’m the heretical one here.


Anyway, this post isn’t about the historical problems with affirming Biblical inerrancy. It’s about the lack of faith it takes to do so and what the Bible actually has to say about itself.

Related: God Did Not Write the Bible – by Kathy Vestal

That’s right. I said a lack of faith.

But in an ever increasingly post-Christian society, isn’t affirming Biblical inerrancy a bold act of faith?

Not at all.

Faith, as Paul Tillich say, requires an element of doubt. It’s a choice to believe in the face of incomplete, or even imperfect evidence. Inerrancy, on the other hand, is an arrogant claim to certainty in the face of a definitive reality.

And, as Anne Lamott so eloquently points out, “The opposite of faith is not doubt. It’s certainty.”

Biblical inerrancy is certainty grounded in fear and the need for control. Allow for any “error” in the Bible, so the inerrantists claim, and how can you trust any of it? The answer to this supposedly challenging question is actually quite simple.


How do I know this? Because I have a mother.

When I was child my mother told me to look both ways before crossing the road. If I didn’t look both ways, she said, I might not see an oncoming car. If I didn’t see that car and stepped out in front of it bad things would happen, like broken bones, maybe even death.

My mom isn’t perfect. She would be the first one to tell you so. She has several degrees and a lifetime of experience, but she would also tell you she’s not inerrant.

And yet, I can still trust her when she tells me that stepping in front of an oncoming car will have negative consequences for my well-being.


Because inerrancy or “perfection” is not a necessary condition for conveying truth, knowledge, or even trust. While something can’t be completely wrong and still be “true” and “trustworthy,” mistakes don’t render someone or something completely invalid.

This is why the example of my mother is so important here.

As I grew up, I went through that stage that all of us go through when we realize our parents aren’t perfect. No matter how much I wanted her to be perfect, I had to accept the fact that my mother made mistakes and that there were things she was wrong about. But that reality didn’t negate all the true things my mother taught me growing up, like how walking in front of traffic is a terrible idea.

When I became an adult I went from a place of certainty in which I believed my mother was perfect, to a place of faith when I recognized her flaws. Nothing about my mother changed during that time. She still loves me as much as she ever did and I love her just the same. I may ask more questions of her than I did when I was 5, but a lifetime of her love and guidance allows me to continue to put my faith in her that she wants what is best for me, that when she speaks she speaks what she believes to be the truth, and that while I may find some mistakes in what she says or does, that doesn’t mean she suddenly becomes an untrustworthy liar.

Related: Ku Klux Clowns in East Tennessee – by Shane Claiborne

In other words, my mom is a lot like the Bible. She’s not perfect, but I can still trust that what she says is true.

Brave New Films

You see, it’s ok to believe that Noah’s ark was filled with all the animals on earth when you’re 5 years old, and then change your mind when you realize the physical impossibility of that when you’re adult, but still have faith in that story. Why? Because the truth of Noah’s ark is not found in zoological arrangements. It’s found in the message of a God who watches over and cares for His creation even in the midst of a storm.

These sorts of truths, the sorts of truths the Bible is concerned about conveying, are not contingent on their authors’ perfection or even on their authors getting all the facts right. These sorts of truth only require a truthful message.

And, yes, I said authors.

The simple reality of the Bible is that it was written by people. If you don’t believe me, then I have to question how carefully you’ve actually read it as countless books of the Bible explicitly state their human authorship, i.e. every single one of Paul’s letters just to name a few.

Now this doesn’t mean the Bible is not “God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness.” It very much is. But “God-breathed” scripture and “inerrant” scripture are two very different things. How do I know?

Because the Bible told me so.

Do you remember the other big moment when we read about something being “God-breathed” in scripture? Sure you do. We find it in the very beginning, in Genesis chapter 2 verse 7 when God took the dust of the ground and breathed life into it to create humanity.

In that moment God breathed something into existence…..which wasn’t perfect. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t God.

(And before you try arguing we were perfect before the Fall, first ask yourself why the forbidden fruit would have been a temptation if we were already perfect. Remember, God called us “good” not perfect.)

Because scripture is also “God-breathed” it means it too isn’t God. Nor does it even come directly from God, but instead it passes through an intermediary. In the beginning, the intermediary between us and God was dirt. God breathed into it and the result was that we were created.

In the case of the Bible, God breathed His truth into the hearts and minds of people and the result was that the Bible was created. But like that ancient dirt that gave birth to us, the people who wrote the Bible, God’s intermediaries, weren’t perfect. Which is why Paul says “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”

If Paul believed the Bible, or what parts of it he had, was perfect he would have simply said “We fully know because we have scripture.” But he didn’t because he knew that even with scripture as his source of knowledge that knowledge was imperfect because it was God-breathed not God Himself.

In other words, the God-breathed Bible is just like the God-breathed people who wrote it. It isn’t perfect. And that’s ok because as is the case with our parents, we can still learn important truth from imperfect people.

Related: 7 Reasons Why Young Adults Quit Church – by Christian Piatt

This is where faith comes in. Faith forces us to rely upon and put our trust in God. Without the need for faith, there is no real need for God, at least not this side of eternity. When Paul spoke of seeing through a mirror dimly, it was a statement of faith that even though his knowledge was only in part and wasn’t perfect, it was sufficient for his salvation, sufficient enough to see him through until Christ’s return. When we take the path of inerrancy the space for this sort of humble faith evaporates and is replaced with an arrogance that claims more certainty than even the Biblical writers themselves were willing to affirm.

Which means when we affirm inerrancy, we reject the need for faith.

When we affirm inerrancy, we ascribe perfection to the creation rather that to the Creator.

When we affirm inerrancy, we create an idol fashioned out of the same need for certainty and control that drove Adam and Eve to snatch divinity away from God.

Simply put, Biblical inerrancy isn’t Biblical.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that someone who believes in BIblical inerrancy will read this post and suddenly “see the light.”

Our fear and ingrained need for control are not overcome that easily.

So, if you are reading this post and you do affirm Biblical inerrancy, please know that not only are you breaking away from Church tradition, you are also rejecting the imperfection the Bible claims for itself, the very imperfection that is necessary for faith.

You may have certainty and therefore have no need for faith in the Bible.

But the apostle Paul sure needed faith.

And so do I.

Zack Hunt is a writer and speaker living in Bristol, Connecticut. He blogs at The American Jesus and is currently a graduate student at Yale Divinity. His first book, The Scandal of Holiness: Dirty Hands, Unclean Lips, and the Power of Redemptive Embrace, will be released September 2013 through CLC Publications

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About the Author

Zack Hunt

Zack HuntZack Hunt is a writer and speaker living in Bristol, Connecticut. He blogs at The American Jesus and is currently a graduate student at Yale Divinity. His first book, The Scandal of Holiness: Dirty Hands, Unclean Lips, and the Power of Redemptive Embrace, will be released September 2013 through CLC PublicationsView all posts by Zack Hunt →

  • mike

    Because there are other mistakes (typos) in this piece, I don’t know if the author meant to write “can” or “can’t” in the following sentence: “While something can’t be completely
    wrong and still be “true” and “trustworthy,” mistakes don’t render
    someone or something completely invalid.” The way it’s written, it doesn’t make sense, so I don’t know if I’m reading it wrong of it this piece wasn’t proofread.

    • Trent DeJong

      It seems pretty clear to me. If you italicize the first completely, the meaning becomes even more clear.

    • Geoff Ramsay

      There is no mistake:
      If something is 100% mistaken, it is 0% true.

      However, something that is 0.5% mistaken, it is still true in all the ways that matter.

      • Guest

        What Geoff said is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, I assume. With a bit of contempt behind it.

        Let’s say that you have a book that makes numerous claims, and none of those claims are ever proved true, or, rather, that all claims are proved wrong. Such a book, person, or object could not be trusted because it has been shown to be untrustworthy.

        However, like how he compares faith to his mother – initially, he thought everything she did to be true and right. As he grew up, he learned there were some things that were not based in truth. He is saying that not everything in the Bible is necessarily true. For instance, the ark story. However, just because he doesn’t think the ark story is true doesn’t mean that Jesus wasn’t real, that David wasn’t real, that the psalms don’t hold theological fact, or that the letters of Paul aren’t factual or valid.

        Something that he doesn’t approach in this article is the in-between state of this argument. Obviously, a book where everything has been proven false can’t be trusted. What about a book with only two facts, and 1 fact is wrong? What about a book with 100 facts, and only 1 fact is wrong? What if 10 are wrong? 90? 99? At what point do you go by faith (as he is saying here) that the book is still correct? And at which point do you have to claim that the book must be abandoned?

        • Geoff Ramsay

          Nope! No contempt at all. :)

          When Paul says something like “I didn’t Baptize any of you… oh, except for you three…”
          Well, that’s technically a mistake!

          But it takes away nothing from the power of the rest of his letter.

  • Actually, you opened my eyes – as one who always believed I was supposed to believe in Biblical inerrancy, and did so as a good little girl, I am glad to read your reasoned and enlightening blog. Thank you.

  • Daniel Olson

    I can’t say I agree with all the points or reasons given in the above article, but it has been apparent to me for some time that the Bible, at least the one(s) we have today, appear to have contradictions and inconsistencies. I understand the author’s explanation of “God breathed”, but that’s not sufficient concept to discount the inerrancy of Scripture. What does seem sufficient is that nowhere does our collection of scriptures claim itself to be complete, perfect, and all sufficient. Sola Scriptura fails its own test, and limits a truly omniscient God.

    I have often referred to scripture as the “fourth person in the Trinity” as it is often, dare I say, idolized. I know only one place in our bible where the term HOLY SCRIPTURES is found… and that is in Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy (3:15). I’m not gonna argue with Paul, but I bet he would not likely call his own letters “Holy”. I do believe what he wrote in the verses 15-17, but I don’t believe that points to biblical perfection. I love scripture…. and read some part almost daily (yeah so what?)

    Whether I am right or wrong on this is an even more significant issue, that being man’s penchant to MISINTERPRET scripture.

    • Mike

      You’re correct – evangelicals have made the scripture the “fourth person of the trinity.” We’ve also replaced Christ as our foundation – with the Bible and in the name of Christ. I think we do it because we aren’t following Christ – we’re following our doctrinal system and read it into the Bible. To make a claim to have an authority beyond our mere religious system, we then claim the Bible as our authority. The whole time, we throw words around like “word of God” pointing not to the Word made flesh, but to the Bible. We start there, but not with the Gospels, with Romans as “the Gospel.” This is backward. If we want to indoctrinate people so as to control what they believe on various doctrinal points, we have to start with the Bible as a whole instead of with Christ, so when we talk about “the Bible” as “the word of God,” we aren’t even talking about the scripture as a God-breathed connection point with which and in which we know God by faith – we’re manipulating people so we can brainwash them.

      • Jonathan Starkey

        Hey, just read the gospels then. I have been. Read through them 3 times in 3 months. It’s what has convinced me of the inerrancy of scripture. It’s what has opened my eyes that by drinking the RLC kool aid I really had the fear of man.

        When you read the gospels through and through and through again. It makes you cringe at half these articles.

        Read the Gospels and find good teachers to help you unpack them.

        Jesus is the only way. No uncertainty about God there. Call me addicted to certainty. I am certain about Christ and I am certain about His word and I’m not ashamed of that.

        • Jonathan Starkey

          In the same way you accuse people of making scripture the forth person of the trinity.

          Some Liberationists have been accused of Christomonism. Only paying attention to the human side of Jesus.

          Only looking at the red letters, only focusing on Jesus the man, only focusing on our efforts to look like Jesus. Humanism.

          Always sighting St. Francis, always preach the Gospel and sometimes use words.

          The Bible says use words and deeds.

    • Andrew

      Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul used the word “holy” to describe his own letters. The word holy does not mean perfection. It means “set-apart.” In the OT the word holy is even used to describe prostitutes who were set-apart for service.

      • Daniel Olson

        Interesting.. thanks for the explanation… it’s possible maybe I posted too soon… I wonder if we will even care by the time we get to ask him.

    • Drew

      I see the false teachings continue to spew from your mouth.

      If you open your Bible, you would see that Peter confirms what Paul is saying as Scripture.

      Sola Scriptura is not about idolizing the Bible, but rather, recognizing that Scripture itself says to test everything against Scripture. If anything does not align with Scripture, it is false. This is important, because false teachers and false doctrines are rampant, and my protection as a Christian is being able to go to Scripture (as Jesus did when Satan tempted him in the wilderness) and say “That is false – here is what Scripture says.” That is what Sola Scriptura really means – it means that I don’t believe something because Daniel says it is true, or Zack says it is true, but rather because the Bible says it is true.

      • Daniel Olson

        My protection comes from the Spirit with which I am sealed. I’m here to learn… and I even understand my need to adjust my view having read Butch’s comment below.

        I feel need to add…. Your words are not the faithful wounds of a friend. You display no meekness, no humility. I’ve never seen you admit one weakness, struggle, or mistake. The timber of your replies does not seek for us to be reconciled… only to prove me wrong. There is no heart of reconciliation displayed.. no gentle reproof. I see nothing in your replies that makes me want to be more like you, so why would I listen to you? Even IF you speak the truth… without love (compassion, patience, etc)… I only hear noise. I have no peace in saying this.. only grief that you never address me with respect as a brother. I want you to know… that if you continue to address me in this fashion your words will not draw me, convince me, or convert me. And if that is not your goal… then why reply directly to my comments? Share what you believe without destroying your brother, for whom Christ died.

        • Drew

          Your knowledge of the Spirit comes from the Bible, and you can test everything about the Spirit against the Bible, and if does not align with the Bible, it is not the Spirit that is leading you. The Bible is important. We don’t have the luxury of making stuff up or of rewriting our texts (like Mormons).

          I make no apologies for coming down hard against false teaching. If it is a matter of opinion, I will state my view as such. When I see blatant false teaching, I am not going to use a lot of tact. If I appear to be harder on your comments than others, perhaps it is because I see more false teaching and doctrines coming from your posts than others.

          • Daniel Olson

            Shortly after my conversion at 15, I remember a simple, yet intense moment while reading somewhere in the New Testament. It seems odd to me now that I dont recall which particular scripture… but as I was reading and I had this strong witness that said: “See that’s true” I knew it inside already as it was present in me, and then there in was in front of me in print. I was filled with joy.

            So some of us say that our knowledge of the Spirit comes from the Bible (as you did), and some say our knowledge of the Bible comes from the Spirit (at least PROPER interpretation does). Can both be true? Perhaps that is just perspective.

            Would you say that the Spirit confirms the Word or that the Word confirms the Spirit?

            We cannot avoid the use of scripture, if its available, in our walk… It is a vital tool. Even this entire discussion we base on our understanding of scripture. But the Spirit’s leading is not subject to our understanding of the scriptures.

            Let me share another story (sorry i will try to make it short).
            25 years ago, after having left a promiscuous lifestyle in NY, I was living with a husband and his wife who were ministering to me. I had just tested positive for HIV and was concerned for the guy I had been in relationship with. I believed and it was important for me to contact him and let him know that he needed to get tested. The husband, to whom I was submitted as a mentor, told me he didnt believe that I should. This caused great conflict within me. What I knew of scripture, what it said about being accountable and responsible told me it was my duty to inform this man in NY that he might have HIV. I wrestled with this over and over until the voice came to me: “Do you want a relationship with Me… or a book?” From that moment I surrendered my sense of responisibility in that matter and never questioned it again.

            A dozen years later I found the NY man online, and we chatted. As it turns out.. he had been tested after I left and the results, fortunately, were negative. Suddenly I understood why I didn’t need to contact him regarding that issue so many years back. The Spirit knew what I did not. It was better for me to not have contact, especially during those crucial first months of recovery. So the Spirit did something directly in conflict of my understanding of scripture. At the time… if I had not chosen to submit to my mentor, I never would have had that eye opening experience.

          • Drew

            We are to test everything against Scripture. In your first story, it appears that you did just that – not intentionally, perhaps, but nonetheless. It would be nice if only solid Bible teachers were in the pulpit (not the case), or only solid Biblical books were on the shelves (not the case), or if the only spirit we heard was the Holy Spirit (not true – Ephesians 6:12).

            Scripture says that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18); certainly, we need the Holy Spirit to give us knowledge and interpretation of the Bible. At the same time, our knowledge about the Spirit comes from the Bible.
            Scripture confirms the Spirit, just as a car manual confirms the car. The Spirit’s leading is not subject to Scripture, just as a car is not subject to the car manual; at the same time, Scripture accurately reflects the Spirit and the Spirit will not contradict Scripture, just as a car manual accurately reflects a car and the car will not contradict the manual.

            As for your last story, not to take away from it, but I think it is a matter of perspective. God works for the good of those that love him, so perhaps God wanted the situation to work out despite your actions. I would be careful to say that not following Scripture (or your understanding of Scripture) was beneficial.

      • Ford1968

        Sola Scriptura was not the exclusive perspective of the reformers. So, I respectfully ask you, sola scripture to the exclusion of what?

        • Drew

          Not sure what your point is or what you are trying to get at – I clearly defined what I meant above.

          • Ford1968

            Hi Drew,
            I don’t intend to say that scripture is unimportant; I think it’s vital.
            We must also consider that God has been working in the lives of Christians for more than 2000 years. I believe the collective experience of the Church means something as live into our faith through the change that comes over time. I also believe that the wisdom of our leaders and peers, and our own intellect, are gifts from God that are very helpful.
            My best to you.

          • Drew

            I’m sorry, but I’m not a Catholic.

  • Jacqui

    So true. The desire for definitives and to prove every aspect of the Bible comes from cultural influences. Our modern culture worships knowledge and evidence. Faith is to embrace the things in life we don’t understand and bask in the wonder of God and his creation, while keeping our feet firmly on the ground. We achieve this by not getting bogged down in theological debates as the Pharisees did, but get on with the ministry Jesus has called us to, to love God and love others.

  • Brian Hager

    Thank you for this article. Much of what you wrote I learned as a catholic Seminarian. At the same time, however, I remember as a young man be pummeled by “inerrantists” when they found out I was catholic. Several years ago, even the imperfect and incomplete beliefs I learned from the church and my family, were ripped from my grasp. How and for what purpose is best answered by my own reflection on the statue with feet of clay from King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the book of Daniel. In short order I received the Gift of a New Faith. I now know that the Faith I have today is a relationship with Jesus, not a set of static or carved in stone doctrines or dogmas. I know he is God. I know he is my higher power, I know he died for me… But I can’t prove any of it. I don’t have to. I don’t “need” to.

    • Ford1968

      Beautifully said. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Jonathan Starkey

      I think we need to decide if all inerrantists are alike, all Pharisees weren’t the same, but we call everyone a Pharisee.

      Maybe you have fundamental judgmental inerrantists and people who simply believe and know the word of God to be true.

      • Brian Hager

        I recognize that there is truth in the books of the Bible. But your statement about “people who simply believe and know the word of God to be true.” For every church, there are people within them who eventually believe their fellow worshipers have got it wrong. They leave, start a new church, and eventually the pattern is repeated.

        When I read the bible, I allow the word to speak to me. I am open to those reflections Jesus sees fit to inspire me with. I try never to think that my interpretation makes me right and someone else wrong. I have been lured into too many discussions where the sole intent eventually turned out to be this is what the verse means. In those instances, my attackers seemed to think the meaning was clear and self-evident. That I didn’t get what they got meant I really didn’t know Jesus and was putting my soul is imminent danger. I needed to be saved – from myself.

        2 Timothy 3:16-17 has turned into an engraved invitation to abuse others until they come around to the attacker’s way of thinking. I am very weary of people who are fond of saying, “But the bible says…” The bible is NOT The Word. Jesus IS The Word. The bible is a collection of books which preserves, in my humble opinion, the Faith Journies of those who went before us. If anyone thinks they’ve got it right and they know what is true, good for them. It may very well apply to “their lives.” My Faith, my relationship with Jesus, is what guides my life.

        • Jonathan Starkey

          I think it’s sad that you guys are refuting scripture. Just sad. To smart for your own good.

          • Brian Hager

            So Jonathan, if I do not accept the whole of the Old and New Testaments as being 100% totally, literally true I cannot be a Christian? I cannot see where anyone here has said that “you” should not see it that way, if that is what you desire, but to tell someone else that the way they read and interpret the Bible is wrong is to ignore the relationship they have with Jesus. It is, in effect to say that Jesus could not possibly love them because they do not speak as you do, or get the same meaning from holy writ that you get. Are you trying to claim that God only Loves us “conditionally” if/when we believe a certain way? That we must convert to your way of worship to be acceptable to God? My understanding has always been that we draw near to God so he opens our eyes and changes our hearts, not the other way around. As to what is written there I only have the opinion of others as to what Jesus said or didn’t say. To have a better grasp of that I have spent a fair amount of my own time reflecting how Jesus treated others during his earthly ministry. It’s not really WWJD (which is only speculation), but WDJD (What Did Jesus Do?). I am growing more and more frustrated with people who try to tell me, “This (whatever this is) is the truth of what this verse, chapter or book is because that’s the way I read it. And if you don’t read it the way I am you are going to burn in hell.” Maybe you think it’s totally self-evident. That everyone should see it as you do. I have no doubt that is important to you, but my own reading is important to me.

          • Drew

            Unfortunately, what you are speaking of in this reply and the previous reply is not a Biblical worldview but rather a Postmodern worldview. You cling to postmodernism, and then filter everything through that worldview. I suggest trying the opposite for a while. There is such thing as absolute truth – not that we will know the truth about everything, but we will know the truth about some things. It is a postmodern belief that multiple viewpoints are all equally valid, not a Biblical belief.

          • Daniel Olson

            Drew….have you ever been taught/ believed/thought that a particular passage meant one thing and then later discovered it meant something else? Or once you form an opinion that a scripture means one thing… you will not tolerate any other interpretation?
            I don’t think that multiple interpretations ARE valid… there can be only ONE real meaning. The question is… do i comprehend THAT meaning? Unless I’m willing to commit my life to a particular interpretation as the absolute correct one, then how dare I tell someone else that it cant possible mean something else. Can I be certain that the point of EVERY scripture I have an opinion on is the right meaning? (answer: NO) If I can admit that my understanding of certain scriptures is possibly flawed then I will exporess my view… what I think it means. I will even go so far as to say I really believe that this is the correct interpretation. But unless its a foundational doctrine ( e.g. Christ died to reconcile us to God), I’d be a fool to die on that hill and insist others do the same…. or question their motives or heart towards God.

          • Drew

            Not sure if it was clear, but my response was to Brian. I agree more with what you said than with what Brian said.

          • Daniel Olson

            Yes… I knew what you were saying and to whom. Wait now I’m not sure who Brian is…

          • RJCM

            “There can be only one real meaning”… I’d like to explore that statement a little. So when you see a rainbow, is there only one real color? Scripture functions at multiple levels… literal, symbolic, metaphorical, etc. And many times all at the same time. To choose only one meaning or to claim it can mean only thing seems to rob scripture of its depth and beauty… like saying I can only choose red as the true color of a rainbow. I get your point is that you’re humble enough to accept you may interpret something incorrectly, but the beginning assumption that any given part of scripture has only one meaning does not allow for a God who works on multiple levels of human experience and understanding. For example…Jesus is the light of the world… but light both illuminates and blinds – are not both realities true? Does not the truth of Jesus both illuminate and shed light for some, while it simultaneously blinds others, like walking out of a dark movie theater into bright sunlight? Not to mention that English is a limited language compared to Greek. John 3 can be translated as being “born again” or “being born from above.” Is only one translation correct? Or, did Jesus utilize that word specifically because of its dual meaning? That one must be both born again and born from above? When Jesus cries “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Is he merely quoting the psalm, or is he uttering an anguished cry every human has felt, displaying at that moment what it means for God to abandon God? Or… is it both? How can one pick just one meaning and say “this is the only way to read this” and still claim to have a God who is so much bigger and more full of depth than we could possibly imagine? A God who breaks down barriers and limitations, and who states “my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts.” Is not the compelling part of God’s Word the fact that it is not static and breathes new life and new levels of understanding during different times in our lives? That it actually works on us, that it has this ability to interpret us as much, if not more, than our ability to interpret it?

          • Daniel Olson

            I agree that prophetic verses, such as the Psalm Jesus used are inspirational in their dual purpose. I thought the context of the conversation did not omit such interpretation. The rainbow analogy seems a stretch. I mean really… who would claim such a thing?

            As the 6 blind men who fell upon different parts of the elephant, each was limited to his experience. While it was good for each to have the understanding of the part of the elephant he touched it would ultimately be folly to assume that that was the whole elephant. It would also be folly to “blindly” preach that which they had NOT experienced, because their comprehension could not match their experience.

            Our blindness is effected by several limitations, some of which can be partially overcome by human methods of research and logic. But better comprehension comes from submission to the Spirits direct enlightenment.

            The limits of English: “Peter do you love me?” from John 21

            When we interpret the interaction between Jesus and Peter in John 21 without regard the 2 VERY different Greek words translated into LOVE we completely miss the understanding that while Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him (agape), He embraced Peter at Peter’s own level (philos/phileo). My poor understanding of Greek fails me in comprehending even deeper treasures hidden in John 21.

            English enables and enforces many such misunderstandings. For example: “He went to His house”. Without proper names or surrounding context, we cant know who’s house he went to….We don’t know if he went to his own house or to someone else’s. However, as with both examples above, if we interpret either as something other than the writer’s intended meaning, we miss the boat.

            The limits of our understanding history and its context: “Therefore since you are neither hot nor cold I will spew you from my mouth” REV 3:16

            This verse is occasionally used to criticize anyone who isnt completely “on fire” for God. But to have God say He’d rather us be COLD? Our understanding of the primitive culture of the time and geography of the area cannot be as complete as those who were there, to whom the letter was written.

            The hot water spas in neighboring Hierapolis, are still present in what is now called Pamukkale in Turkey, and supplied the area with hot to very hot water. Trustworthy information on the cooler water piped in from Colosse appears lacking. The term lukewarm likely refers to its loss of temperature as these two streams traveled, via aqueducts, from the neighboring cities to Laodicea. Though this warm water was “pleasant”, it’s preference prevented them from experiencing the real benefits of the boiling waters of Hierapolis and the cool waters of Colosse. The spiritual analogy is evidenced in the verses following. The Laodiceans had become complacent and comfortable with their lives. They had no interest in being spiritually challenged or abandoning their comfort zone. Sadly we tend to consider the former verses more often than the latter.

            The limits of our personal and academic bias: “… and let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” Luke 22:36.

            My personal bias and lack of spiritual understanding affects interpretation of this scripture (as well as the other scriptures referenced). Some say its just to fulfill the prophesy, but I see nowhere else where Jesus went out of his way just to self-fulfill a prophecy. Saying that this verse justifies self defense voids other verses which together ultimately instruct me to allow God to be my defender (a spiritually clear principle to me). The point of arguing or even discussing its meaning seems pointless to me as I believe that, if and when this knowledge becomes crucial for my walk, the Spirit will reveal.

            I conclusion, scriptures which God intends to have multiple layers, certainly have such without being contradictory. Instructional and historical verses have a specific truth to support, whether we comprehend that truth or not.

            Scripture functions at many levels.. yes I can use a wrench to hammer in a nail, but that’s not what it was made for and doesn’t work as well as a hammer. If i don’t have a hammer the wrench may have to do. if someone offers me a hammer… will I insist on using the wrench? (Sometimes… I’m that stubborn) so it is with scripture and interpretation.

            If i’m really seeking God, the Spirit CAN overcome any mistranslation, misinterpretation, or possible error. If i accept every passage of scripture for exactly what it seems to say in plain English, I’m a fool.

          • Daniel Olson

            No Brian He’s not saying that if you dont believe as he does that God doesnt love you. That would be absurd. He’s saying that if you believe the way you do that you don’t love God. O wait… that’s absurd too.

          • jonathan starkey

            I didn’t say that, you burn in hell, because you don’t believe the New Testament 100% to be true.
            Or that we need to believe the exact interpretations, or have a blueprint theology.
            But, I wouldn’t be so lax to say, that it isn’t.

          • Ross

            So if you do not accept the whole of Scripture as “true,” how do you determine which parts are true and which aren’t? Is all just relative to you? And if so, does that not put you as the authority over Scripture? Also, how do you know anything about Jesus apart from Scripture? Maybe you can learn about God without Scripture through creation, but how can you know Jesus?

        • SurvivorGirl

          I appreciate your insights, and I think you’ve hit on some very important points. Lectio Divina is an ancient practice that many still use today (you are probably familiar with it), and the whole goal of it is to hear the Spirit speak through the passage. A group of five people can read a scriptural passage, meditate on it, yet each one comes away with something different. This is because each person responds to the Holy Spirit where s/he is in life. I’m not advocating being tolerant with false teaching (for those of you who are waiting to pounce on me via the keyboard!). The Spirit is the spirit of truth. When we have the Spirit, we have the truth. How many denominations within Christianity are there? Are all of those misinterpreting the Scriptures? Many of them? A few of them? How do we know for certain which ones are “in” and which ones are “out?” More importantly, it makes a difference not only how we read Scripture but with whom we read it. What if we read Scripture with a bunch of impoverished homeless folks? Are they going to see things differently than a stock broker or wealthy person reading Scripture? What if white believers had read Scripture with black believers back in the 50s and 60s? Would those white believers have been able to support racism and segregation?

          We have to be careful not to make an idol of Scripture. When Peter made the decision to welcome Cornelius into the early church, resulting from Cornelius’ conversion, he didn’t require C. to be circumcised. Peter deliberately set aside the Torah for the sake of the Gospel (Acts 10).

          • Drew

            Thank you for giving almost a perfect definition of postmodernism and what it looks like to have that as your worldview.

          • SurvivorGirl

            Prove it.

          • Amonite

            As I mentioned before, you are mixing up the ‘Law’ with ‘scripture’. Scripture is there to tell us of God’s eternal plan regarding His relationship with man. Parts of it deal with the law; these are nescessary to understand it’s incompleteness, it’s inability to save us; but ‘the law’ is not ‘scripture’. Scripture, primarily (if not entirely, in a sense), deals with Christ. It is His Story – what led to His coming, why His coming was nescessary, what followed His coming, how His coming, life, death, ressurection brings us into relation with God. How His life transforms us. It is a handbook on life and godliness, illuminated by the Spirit.

            Scripture tells how God formerly spoke through the law and prophets, through signs and wonders, but now he speaks through his son. Now, scripture is merely the *recording* of the words of God and glimpses of this eternal plan. Did we see these signs and wonders? No, but we have the testimony of them in scripture. Did we see Jesus? No, but we have testimony of Him in scripture.

            This is why you cannot mix these two concepts. The ‘Law’ did not record the coming of Christ (or signs and wonders, even). It is a subset of scripture, which we study to better understand Christ. The scripture is a TESTIMONY of Christ. (and useful for teaching, rebuke, spiritual growth, etc).

            The Spirit repeats what he hears from Christ – in similar fashion, the scripture has recorded the inspired word of God in regards to the covenant between Christ and man. The difference is, the scripture contains everything we “need” to know about the gospel and a godly life and general wisdom, while the Spirit *actively* works within our hearts to transform our lives, give us gifts to edify the body, grow fruit in us, and to guide us in all truth (scripture and other knowledge of Christ, such as found in the principles of nature) as we need direct application for our lives. We could not understand the scripture with the Spirit. The spirit cannot teach contradictory truths to different people, though He can emphasize different parts, connect different areas, show different applications, etc.

          • Amonite

            Yes actually, every denomination out there is misinterpreting the Bible in *at least* one way. Namely, that we are all the body of Christ, and even if a hand thinks it should seperate itself because it doesn’t think the feet serve well enough, it *doesn’t cease to be part of the body*. So all those churches that are treating themselves as ‘seperate units’ with ‘seperate membership rolls’ are misinterpreting the Bible, where we all are the body of Christ, the body corporate.

            Also, while it is fine for five people to read a passage and find five different applications of the *same truth* (or find different truths within a passage to apply), it is *wrong* for five people to divine different truths or contradictory applications just because they ‘believe’ the spirit led them to. (And this is far more common. I see it in youth groups and young adult classes all the time where scripture is seen as ‘unimportant’ compared to ‘relation with the spirit’. These spiritual children end up worldly, serving themselves and a god of their own making, as the scriptures are subverted to whatever it ‘means to them’). The Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He will not say “homosexuality is ok” to one and “homosexuality is wrong” to another and “you can vote to support homosexuality but not be homosexual yourself” to a third. The Spirit will rather point to the scripture and God’s law. “God forgives you. Turn from sin. Obey the law. Uphold morality”.

            Following the commands of Christ (and thus proving we love Him!) is not making an idol of scripture (also, the scripture is not the same thing as the LAW. Those are two very seperate things. Please do not mix them up). Ignoring the commands of Christ (though shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, etc) and prioritizing some phantom view of the ‘spirit’ instead (and the Spirit exists to help us follow the commands of Christ!) is saying that right relationship with Christ is -less important- than what one “feels” about that relationship.

            And any relationship or love based on ‘feelings’, vs.commitment, covenant, and choice, is unstable and will eventually falter. ‘Feeling’ relationships are not selfless, they are rather contingent on ‘what do I get out of this?’ rather than ‘what does the other person ask’? Actually getting to know the person better by relating with them on their terms is replaced by fluttery feelings. When those fluttery feelings go away, you think ‘something’s wrong’ and seek to get close through experience, vs knowing something is wrong simply by someone telling you ‘this is wrong’, apologizing, and then working to correct it.

          • Ian Thompson

            SurvivorGirl – sounds like you follow Barth . . .

  • Tom P

    On Red Letter Christians there are articles saying that believing in substitutionary atonement means I believe in a wicked God, articles saying that right-wingers are deluded and dangerous and now an article that says that people who believe in inerrancy are committing idolatry.

    Does it occur to Tony Campolo and others who warn of a possible split in Evangelicalism, that websites like RLC is fuelling that split?

    • Geoff Ramsay

      I guess you’ll have to measure the movement by it’s fruit.

  • otrotierra

    As followers of Jesus, we are liberated from the idolatrous fiction of so-called scriptural innerancy.

  • Jonathan H

    Awesome article, thanks. I’ve had lots (but not all) of these thoughts myself, and it’s incredibly nice to have them all in one place.

  • Jen N.

    I think you make some really interesting points. I tend to think Scripture itself is inerrant, while we who read it will sometimes read it “errantly.” For example, I was taught as a child that the creation story told in Gensis 1 occurred in six, twenty-four hour days. As an adult, I don’t believe that to be true. So, did Scripture make a mistake, or am I mistaken to read it literally when perhaps it’s intended to be a metaphorical description of God creating us and seeking relationship with us? I guess I believe that the Bible is inerrant, but if we are reading without asking the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us to understand, we will miss much of what God is trying to say.

  • Drew

    This is the worst article I have seen on this website to date. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jonathan Starkey

      Agreed: This is the worst article I have seen on this website to date.

      • Geoff Ramsay

        Then why remain here?

    • Digger

      Ever since chapter three of Genesis, when that old serpant deceived Eve, Satan has been repeating his most effective line: “Did God really say…?”

      • Jonathan Starkey

        I was taking it all the way back to the garden myself.

    • Geoff Ramsay

      I can really feel the love of God in you.

      • Drew

        Appreciate the ad hominem.

        • Geoff Ramsay

          Well what you said was a horrible thing to say about someone’s work.
          try: “I disagree with you”

          • Drew

            Better to say something about someone’s work then to question the core character of an individual, Geoff.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            Sorry Drew – you are right.

            I should have said that I cannot feel the love of God in your action.

            I’ll still ask you to consider that it was an awful thing to write.

          • jonathan starkey

            Fear of Man.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            …or you know, Love of Man?

  • Jonathan Starkey

    Kind of supports a theory I have, that Redletters are angry at their parents.

    They can’t accept God for His word and who he is because they rebeling against the religion of their parents.

    The word is not as errant as this guy makes it out to be. If you do the heavy lifting almost every piece of scripture can be confirmed.

    More Fear of Man from the RLC.

    • Jonathan Starkey

      The meditation of a teenager, I know what’s best for me.

      Then you find when you grew up you didn’t “leave your childish ways behind.”

      • Jonathan Starkey

        You have the “Judgmental” dualistic right wingers and their “Postmodern” liberal monistic spawn.

        As a convert to Christianity you enter a family feud.

        One day hopefully the light will go and they’ll say, “Maybe my parents were right. Maybe a little hyper judgmental about this inerrant thing, but they were right.”

    • Geoff Ramsay

      I love my Parents.

      I just think the message of Jesus is more important than a bunch of traditions Reformist churches made up in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

      • jonathan starkey

        Guess you have to way out which of the reformist traditions are cultural and which ones are moral and biblically loaded.

        • Geoff Ramsay

          I think a good way of doing that is by concentrating on the Red Letters in the Bible.

          • jonathan starkey

            No, concentrating on the full Bible and 2000 yrs of Christian moral tradition. To many of you RLC concentrating on the redletters read your postmodernism into them because your not taking the Red letters into context of all of scripture.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            You mean you’d like to rejoin Catholicism?
            I should invite you to my mother’s church sometime, it’s lovely, and she’ll be thrilled! 😀

          • jonathan starkey

            Many critiques of the Neo-Anabaptists an Red letters say that they have become too liberal.
            Not recognizing that many of their hero’s were devout orthodox believers.

          • jonathan starkey

            And yes, rejoin the Catholic Church meaning “universal.”

            What is the historic biblical orthodox moral interpretation.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            But what is the historic biblical orthodox moral interpretation?

            I guess my point it that, at some point reformists broke away from what had traditionally been accepted as just that. How do we discern?

  • Butch Burns

    I follow Mr. Hunt on Twitter and while we do not always agree I appreciate his perspective. Such is the case with this blog entry. However, I do not view him as a heretic and in fact, I am not here to rail against him or his position as much as his logic.

    First, the only thing that disappointed me is his characterization of those of us who affirm Biblical inerrancy as arrogant. I cannot help but wonder what an objective observer would determine as more arrogant; someone affirming Biblical inerrancy or someone saying those holding that position do so out of arrogance that is based on “fear and the ingrained need to control.” It would seem to me that you would have to be pretty sure of yourself to make such a sweeping statement. Perhaps I missed it but I do not see where Mr. Hunt’s closing statements give any leeway for another reason why we would hold to Biblical inerrancy.

    Secondly, to believe that the Bible is inerrant is not to say that I therefore have a grasp on all that it has to say. God is God and none of us will ever understand the depths of the truths He laid on the hearts of those He chose to write it. For instance, I can believe that the Bible is totally true yet not be able to reconcile Biblical passages that on one hand appear to support free will with others that seem to give credence to the doctrine of the elect. It requires a significant amount of faith to know that they can be reconciled without understanding how. In the same way I cannot grasp an actual handwriting on the wall or virtually anything in Revelation. I believe this is the concept that Paul was referring to in the I Corinthians passage Mr. Hunt references.

    Finally, for clarification, I am not an apologist for all who claim Biblical inerrancy. There is a radical fringe on every side of every issue. I expect that there are those who would take Mr. Hunt’s position further than he believes it should go. I am merely saying that the issue and the reasons for holding to Biblical inerrancy are not as simple and one dimensional as Mr. Hunt seems to be describing them to be.

    • Drew

      Thanks for being a voice of reason amongst the unreasonable.

    • Daniel Olson

      Thanks, Butch. I understand what you are saying, and it makes sense. Its encouraging to know that Christ will finish the work He began within all of us. I hope that we can continue to dialogue according to the principle of truly seeking after Christ, without malice and without pride.

    • Daniel Olson

      The more I read this comment the more I like it. I can readily admit that I don’t understand MANY passages in scripture, something I felt guilty about for many years. I would feel guilty, and even condemned if I didnt fully embrace all the old testament stories. The accuracy or literalness (which apparently is a real word) of accounts such as the ark, Jonah and the big fish, or even the world being created in 6 actual days, I can’t be certain. But my faith hinges on none of these. I don’t believe these are hills to die on, and neither scripture nor the Spirit lead me to defend them at the cost of division in the body, or the destruction of another’s faith.

    • Jace Barnett

      Butch… Wow!

      That, my friend, was an amazing comment.

  • Walker41

    First, just because we were tempted by the fruit does not mean that we were not made perfect. Jesus experienced all our temptations, and submitted to none of them. As CS Lewis points out, one cannot really know temptation until he has tried to fight with it for sometime. Someone who eats the cake after thirty minutes knows nothing of the struggle that a person has made to avoid the cake for a week. Or a year. Or a life. Jesus was tempted to the utmost, yet never failed. He was perfect. He chose not to sin. Man could have chosen not to sin, but instead did chose sin as the way to life. We’ve been suffering the consequences ever since.

    Saying that the Bible has no errors might require more faith than saying that the Bible does have errors. For instance, I take the Ark story literally. There are plenty of times where the Bible is clear that it is speaking in allegory or parable, and the Bible expects people to be smart enough to understand which instance is which. As such, in a book that is clearly history (Genesis, or the Pentateuch overall), why assume it is not history? I require more faith to think that the Ark story happened, as well as an actual creation, than you require to listen to all the science about macro-evolution, cosmic evolution, etc., and think the Bible was using allegory or “ancient people’s” writing.

    That being said, whatever I believe, you believe, or anyone else believes about Jesus should have nothing to do with this argument. We need to stop wasting time trying to be right, and writing an entire blog post about such a silly argument that won’t make a difference in the end. What makes a difference right now is whether you are gaining people for Christ, supporting those who are already in Him, and causing growth and change of your personality and spirit for both those groups of people. You might think this paragraph is canned “Christianese,” but very few people in our culture approach Christianity as anything other than a theological topic anymore. Nobody, NOBODY, talks about the justice and hope Christ brought to people 2,000 years ago, and what his message of hope meant to a people that were pounded down by the Romans. We don’t understand the message, and that it wasn’t just about salvation from sin. Another thing CS Lewis mentions is that this life is the beginning of heaven for those that go there, with a little taste of hell at the heels as we run from it, and that this life is the beginning of hell for those who go there, with a little taste of heaven at their heels.

    I believe in a literal creation, without evolution (without a “first” Adam, how can Paul mention that Jesus is the “first” new man? Does he mean Jesus is a symbol of the billions of years of change and evolution that must continue?). I believe the Jonah story. I don’t believe in a rapture. I’m not sure I believe in an actual tribulation like Revelation speaks about, as there is so much allegory that I’m left with my head spinning by the number of differing opinions that exist about the book. I require faith to believe such things, as some Christians claim science has debunked all that stuff, and that Revelation is not literal in ANY sense. You require faith to think the Ark story didn’t actually happen, as so many people did, and still do, think otherwise. There are logical explanations for both sides of the story. Same goes for any other topic in Chrisitianity. The focus should be on who Jesus is, who God is, what man is, what belief means, and what eternity means. If we can agree on those things, then nothing else matters and is just a point for division. Stop throwing the Christian out with the bath water; we both require faith. A ton of it. Especially when life kills your devout wife with cancer. Where is Jesus then? The inerrancy of the Bible doesn’t help me with that situation AT ALL. This topic should be a non-issue, but we Christians focus on those things the most (drinking, speaking in tongues, baptism, even homosexuality – why do we bother fighting? Just live and let live, folks.).

    I heard a story of two different ministers/priests, from Baptist and Catholic churches, doing a missions trip together in Africa. They were good friends and all stood in a river together, and people from nearby towns had been coming for three days to listen to these men talk and preach. On the third day, they started performing baptisms to those that wanted it. A woman came to the Baptist minister to get baptized. When they were done, she ran to the short and grabbed a baby from someone on the bank and came back to the Baptist minister. Instead of giving the lady a lecture on why infant baptism isn’t necessary in his eyes, he took the baby from her, handed the child to the Catholic priest standing beside him, and the priest performed the baptism. Yes, this is a silly story, and I have no idea whether it is true or not. But it points out that fact that Christians need to stop comparing the size of their denomination’s penis, if you will, and focus on the parts that we can agree on and work together on instead. This is like the worst variation of Celebrity Apprentice ever, otherwise. And this is why the world hates us. The Bible says that the world will know us by how we love each other. And we don’t. We are whiny babies. And need a good butt-swap from Jesus – though I don’t believe in that kind of thing. Even if you do. :-)

    • Walker41

      Oh, and also – saying that because of the God-breathed thing that the Bible says itself that it’s not perfect…that is the worst kind of biblical analysis anyone can ever do. Basing something off of one verse (Timothy), then using a term in that verse to say that another verse can shed light on it (Genesis), and then saying that the Genesis verse explains the Timothy verse…bad. You know that the Bible means God literally *gave life* to humans in Genesis (that is the meaning, but you get to decide whether it actually happened) and that the scripture is *inspired* by God in Timothy (that is the meaning, but you get to decide whether it actually happened that way, too).

      If you want to go that way, what about the fact that God saw creation, and said that it was good? Jesus, in Luke, says, “Why do you call me good?…no one is good, except God alone.” If I do a similar comparison as you did, then Jesus called God good, and we can then imply that the creation was good in the same way. Perfect. Not subject to temptation. In control of everything. See how silly this argument is?

      The Bible says nothing about inerrancy or errancy. It only mentions God-breathed, one time, has been proven correct in numerous archaeological areas, and has never been proven wrong with regards to science or history (unless you talk evolution vs. creation, in which case – well, do what you will – that’s only three chapters in the Bible. And I think they’re accurate). There are a few different views of the inspiration that occurs in the Bible. They range from a natural view (men, just writing by themselves, with their works collected – whether God exists or not is not relevant, but he had no hand in the creation of the Bible) all the way up to the dictation view (God knew what specific word to use in every single instance, and made sure that word was used, by putting that word into the author’s head for every single moment). I believe in an in-between view, where men, spending time with God, wrote about God or topics concerning God, but did so sometimes without even being aware of his hand being on them. They sang or wrote as we would a love song for a significant other, so their personality came out, and works of poetry or song or just straight facts (my favorite, really – poetry KILLS me) were made that reflected that author. God did not give them literal words to say EVER except when specific prophecy is made (e.g. Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.). Daniel was a prophet, for instance, and knew how to interpret the king’s dream. But I don’t think God told Daniel how to communicate the dream to the king, or how Daniel’s communication would be recorded later.

  • Digger

    If I can’t trust the geology in the Bible, why should I trust the theology?

    • Geoff Ramsay

      That’s a question you’ll need to wrestle with.
      I’ve not had any issues.

      Setting up the Bible to fail on a point like the Theory of Evolution robs God of a lot of his credibility.

      • Ford1968

        I’ll give you an “amen” on that!

    • John

      Because the Bible is not a science textbook. It’s a book about faith.

      By your reasoning, a book on Physics doesn’t talk much about geology either, so why should you trust that?

  • Jonathan Starkey

    I wonder why Jesus used scripture in His interaction with Satan while being tempted?

    • Digger

      “It is written, although it might not be true, man shall not live by bread alone. Oh, what the hell, I guess I will have a bite of this stone. Thanks, Satan!”

    • Wood

      And isn’t it interesting that Satan uses scripture in his interaction with Jesus.

      • Jonathan Starkey

        And isn’t it interesting that Satan didn’t read the whole passage of scripture he was quoting to Jesus. And in the garden Satan twisted the words God said?

        • hamish

          well, first, Jonathan, you have to prove the story happened as you think it does. We have no first hand accounts of what happened and the accounts we do have were written decades after the fact.

          • 22044

            Sources, please.
            Your claims disagree alarmingly with the relevant settled historical & anthropological studies of that time & place.

          • Drew

            Are you a Christian, or are you an atheist that is trolling this website?

          • Amonite

            Actually, accounts starting a couple decades and after is *very quick*, history wise. (Especially when you consider that it was an oral culture, with a literacy rate of about 3%). We even have ~ 43% of the Bible in actual manuscript copies dating back to the 1st and 2nd century (the oldest being a fragment of Mark, I think) – which is amazing! (and of course, about 25,000 manuscripts total in greek, latin, syrian, etc spanning 1000+ years after) Most historical documents only have a few manuscript copies, if that, written centuries after the fact if not longer.

            Tacticus’ Annals, for instance (who referred to Christ and his execution by Pilate); has no original manuscripts, and of its only two surviving copies the oldest is from the 11th century! He didn’t write until the 2nd century A.D, either. He isn’t the only ‘secular’ source for Christ, either, but neither does history require that only ‘secular’ sources be used. Luke (from the Bible) is well regarded as a historian for his extreme detail and accuracy in the material facts and recordings in his gospel. Josephus as well is a highly regarded historian. Both recorded supernatural events as history. (Luke to the miracles of Christ, Josephus to supernatural events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem -Josephus with the snippy comment along the lines of ‘I would normally say this was impossible, except for the sheer number of eye witnesses to the event!).

            The Bible is definately the exception for its profusion of manuscripts and speed of proliferation, which has never seen the like in history.

        • Daniel Olson

          “Peter.. Rise up, kill and eat!” Peter says: “O no I cant do that! Its against Scripture… and the REAL God would never do ask me to do anything contrary to scripture!”

          • jonathan starkey

            This is just getting silly.

          • Daniel Olson

            Its only silly if I disagree with you. you didn’t say that to Digger who supported your view with his “silliness”. and while I said it in a silly way… do you understand the repercussions?
            “You were praying and you had a vision, Peter? And you say the Spirit told you to do something like that… well lets go see what scripture says… okay…. no it cant be the Spirit because it doesn’t line up with the Torah.”
            Now I realize that we are talking the difference between old and new covenant… but Peter could NEVER have discerned this from the scriptures he had available to him. If he wasn’t CERTAIN it was the Spirit of God speaking, and even then he balked, he would have never gotten the understanding that was set before him.
            Are we so certain that God isnt still breaking down conventional walls?

  • Great article! I think your discussion of faith and certainty is dead on. Wholeheartedly agree that faith implies some degree of doubt and that inerrancy boasts of a false certainty which actually undermines faith. I also think you are right to point out that historically inerrancy is a new doctrine, not a traditional dogma of the church, and that assertions of a “truer” form of Christianity usually accompany heretical developments. My only quibble with this post is with your reading of the flood story. I think saying that the message is that God cares for us even in the storm might overlook a significant part of the story (namely, that God sent the storm to destroy everyone who wasn’t on the boat). Not sure this is a big deal in terms of the points you are making in this post, but I think its worth mentioning because one of the things that we more “liberal”/”progressive” protestants struggle with, in my experience, is the extent to which its ok to reinterpret texts/doctrines in light of our own ideals or present situations (especially when we deal with any story/text/doctrine that might make God seem angry or judgmental). That struggle brings us back again to a question about “authority” in theology, which I think is at root what conservative evangelicals are trying to get at with the doctrine of inerrancy (it’s a doctrine about scriptural authority at heart). So this is all a long set-up for a question I’d be interested in your thoughts on: setting aside inerrancy as a concept, what are the parameters of “theological authority” that are invested in scripture?

    • Jonathan Starkey

      I agree inerrancy isn’t traditional dogma. So Jews wouldn’t get so wrapped up in the details surrounding the cross. ie “Was it literally 3 days and 3 nights.”

      But then even that can be explained by the Jews weren’t really concerned about all the technical details. It doesn’t mean that they thought there scripture was myth.

      #erroringintheoppositedirection, #makingacontroversyoutofnothing #addinguncertaintywhereyoudon’tneedto

    • Jonathan Starkey

      About the second half is it sola scriptura. Or sola scriptura + councils + tradition.

      How has 3500 years Judaism and 2000 years of Christianity interpreted it.

      Tradition is the democracy of the dead. – Chesterfield

      You can’t read postmodernism backward into scripture.

    • Ford1968

      I think this is an important and insightful question. If authority doesn’t come from the church, as in the Catholic tradition, where does it come from? God, of course; but how is truth to be discerned? The tenets of the reformation were constructed brilliantly to answer this. Somehow, we have put an undue and unintended focus on sola scriptura.

      So perhaps the better question is why have we seemingly shifted our focus from grace and faith? It’s as if we think that God has stopped revealing Himself when the last word of the bible was written.

      • Drew

        Revelation is the last book in the Bible and nothing is to be added to it. We are not learning anything “new” outside of what has already been revealed; there are not “new” revelations. That would be Mormonism.

        • Ford1968

          I’ve heard perspectives like yours before, and I must confess, they are completely outside of my experience. The God I have encountered is actively at work in my life and the lives of others. Scripture is a powerful way that He uses to help me discern His will; but He also reveals Himself in my interactions with others, in science and nature, in silence and prayer. To me, a faith that is contained within the cover of the bible leaves previous little room for mystery. It’s as if we’re trying to pretend we know an unfathomable God. I think part of faith is being able to ask questions and be excited about the potential answers.
          My sincere best to you.

          • Drew

            This is where discussion helps, as I think we are closer than you may think.

            A lot of folks claim that there is new revelation that adds, subtracts, rewrites, or contradicts Scripture. There is no such thing. That is why I clarified what you said – a lot of folks use what you said, for instance, to justify homosexuality, that “God is revealing Himself” on this issue. Muslims and Mormons would also say that God continued to reveal himself after the Bible was written.

            What you are talking about is more about experiencing Scripture rather than knowing Scripture (this is what Jesus called letting truth abide in us). Yes, Scripture comes to life when we experience it. Romans 1:20 says that creation clearly shows (reveals) God’s qualities to us. Now, these qualities are mentioned in the Bible, but we can see them in action, so to speak, in creation.

          • Ford1968

            Hi Drew.

            Thanks for the clarification. I think you and I would probably have some lively face to face discussions!

            If I’m inferring correctly from your comment, you don’t believe there are contradictions in scripture itself. I do, and I thank God for them (see my comment above). Struggling through the tensions in scripture has strengthened my faith. So…I’m not sure we view scripture in the same way.

            In full disclosure, I’m gay and married; so, clearly, you and I understand the sinfulness of homosexuality differently too. I have reconciled my faith and sexuality through the study of scripture – not despite it.

            But, despite our different understandings, I would hope that we could agree that God is faithful, and through Christ we are brothers. Soon enough, all will be revealed…then we will know fully!

            Sincere thanks for engaging in the discussion. I wish you peace.


  • Keith Whitaker

    In the conversation it’s helpful to distinguish between different views of inerrancy. They all believe that the Bible is truthful and therefore trustworthy, yet they differ on the where the inerrant line is drawn. Absolute inerrancy – every detail is correct; discrepancies/apparent mistakes are because of our limited perspective. Full inerrancy – details were correct as the human author saw them. Limited inerrancy – focuses on the truth and trustworthiness of the salvation message behind the details. Errors in historical or scientific details do not threaten the truth of God’s story of salvation.

    Zach is certainly challenging Absolute inerrancy (and so we should – it doesn’t leave room for the nunances of different literary genres), and if I were to guess he would have problems with full inerrancy too. Would be interesting to hear his thoughts on Limited inerrancy…perhaps this is where he lands on the spectrum?

  • Tom P

    I am very sorry to see this article on RLC. The RLC says that “We respect and fight for the well-being of all people as children of God—especially those we differ with.” Yet this article seems to ignore most of what inerrantists believe in order to attack a straw man.
    For example, despite what this article says inerrantists are explicit in their belief that humans wrote the Bible. The Chicago statement on Biblical Inerrancy states “We affirm that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word.” and ” We affirm that God in His work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared. We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.”

    If I may recommend one book to understand what inerrantists believe and why, it would be “Words of Life” by Timothy Ward. However, I know not everyone has time to read it so if you go to the Theology Network website (can’t post links on RLC) and search for Tim Ward you’ll find 4 talks by him giving an overview of what is in the book. I would ask that people have a listen before condemning us as idolaters.

    • Drew

      Zack makes his living as a “writer and speaker.” He has a new book coming out in September. Just saying.

      • Frank

        Ar least we know that we will not be missing anything important by not reading it.

  • tom sellier

    God is not a man, or a woman, that He should lie. To use flawed man to validate your theory of a flawed Bible is well flawed.

    • Ellen K.

      And using flawed man to validate your theory of inerrancy isn’t flawed? After all, the idea that the Bible is inerrant is one people get from other people. Flawed people.

      There’s two ways to learn about God. One, though other people. And, as noted, people are flawed. And through what we observe of God himself and his world. But those observations are interpreted by us imperfect humans. Anything I know about God comes through the mediation of humans, because I am human.

      • Drew

        Point one – you are essentially asserting that the truth is unknowable. This is not a Biblical view.

        Point two – you just made the perfect case for Biblical inerrancy. Yes, we learn about God through other people, but it is difficult to discern. Yes, we learn about God through creation, but it is difficult to discern. This is the reason God gave us Scripture, so that we can test what other people say and how we interpret creation against Scripture. If Scripture is errant (realizing this means different things to different people), than it wouldn’t be very useful for testing, would it?

        • Ellen K.

          What I said applies to the Bible too. We get it from other people. It’s other flawed people who tell us it’s the word of God. As I noted and you ignore.

          • Drew

            I did not ignore what you said, but rather what you said is wrong. Scripture is God-breathed; it’s not the mere musings of fallible men that “tell” us it’s Scripture. Your position is essentially the same as the atheist.

          • Ellen K.

            No book of the Bible makes the claim that it’s God’s direct word. (Some books quote God.) No book of the Bible claims the status of scripture for itself. I know my Bible. You telling me I’m wrong doesn’t make me wrong. You’re ignoral of basic logic doesn’t make that logic wrong.

          • Drew

            If Jesus claims the OT as Scripture, that is good enough for me. Whether you think the words of Jesus are good enough for you is another question.

            2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is God-breathed. As Zach points out, the other time this happens is when God created the world. In other words, God created Scripture, “breathed” it into existence.

            You can continue to teach false doctrines; I’ll stick to the Bible.

      • tom sellier

        Only the unregenerate learn about God from observations. Romans chapter one seems to say that doesn’t save them either.
        Born again ones have the Spirit of His Son, the Lord Jesus living in them. And He bears witness of Himself. The Bible just reaffirms what Jesus and His Apostles says to them.

  • 22044

    I’m wondering if I should read this post – but I see comments from a few folks whom I usually trust that suggest that it’s not worth my time. A few others commented to that effect as well.
    I also see one post from one regular poster who badly prooftexts Scripture as far as I’ve been able to discern. Not surprisingly, she applauds the post’s POV.
    I guess I’ll conclude with this – it’s not that anyone has accurately assessed Scripture to be errant, it’s that understanding the truth that it is inerrant is a challenging truth to work out, and that most people have not undertaken the necessary rigor to rightly know Scripture.

    • Geoff Ramsay

      “I didn’t read this, but I’m going to judge anyway”

      • 22044

        Why read something if folks I trust have already done so?
        Maybe I’ll read it anyway, but what’s the point?

        • Geoff Ramsay

          That’s fine, you don’t have to read it! 😀
          But commenting negatively on something you haven’t shows a shocking lack of respect.

          • Digger

            I completely disagree. The human intellect is far more capable than you give it credit. We all (even you) judge many things without directly ovserving the object itself. Like 22044 hut-hut-hike, I had a very accurate idea of the content of this article BEFORE I read it. My judgement was based on the title, and the fact it is in the RedLetter website. Having read the article, I now know that my judgement was 100% accurate. We judge black holes without seeing the massive object that causes them. We discern unseen planets by the wobble they create on other objects. We make judgements about tiny particles by the way light bounces off of them. We also make judgements about God’s character by what He has chosen to reveal to us–but we’ve not yet seen Him on His throne!
            Saying that 22044 lacks the basic human intelligence necessary to make judgements based on partial evidence is insulting to his intellect. And it is wrong.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            Thanks Digger, but I was actually asserting that it was a lapse in decency.

            Hence: ‘lack of respect’ not ‘lack of intelligence’.
            But thanks for confirming that you also prejudged the article before reading it.

            ‘Confirmation Bias’
            It’s when you seek the evidence you’ve decided is there, instead of what is actually there.

            The human mind is amazing at many things. Judging impartially in not chief among them.

          • Guest

            Why is your every single comment on this blog just telling everyone else how they are wrong and straw-manning them, ad hominem-ing them, or just flat out being an angry prick? Every single comment of yours I have seen is a simple one, two, or three sentence statement that is looking to start a flame war. You should change your name to Gordon Ramsay, for sure. As you said above, I can really feel the love of God in you. Oh wait – can’t feel it in your action[s].

          • jonathan starkey

            The idolatry of emotions.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            I’m glad you logged out before calling me a prick, but I will say that I’m not angry.

            I will agree with your assessment, I was clearly looking for a response – and I do have some regret there. But I find it very frustrating that so many people feel it is right to pile-on an author’s work ways that are not at all constructive. Especially people who didn’t even READ the article!

            If someone in my workplace denigrated my work in the way some folks think is fair to do when protected by the anonymity of the Internet, I would be mortified.

            Lots of people disagreed in very constructive ways, maybe in the future we’ll all be able to follow their example. Myself included.

          • 22044

            No disrespect is intended. Since there was plenty of good pushback against Mr. Hunt’s flawed proposal, I decided to engage the way I did with the intent of making a useful point or two. Seemed better than just more “piling on”.
            Instead of subscribing to Anne Lamott’s false choice re faith, I will consider the counsel of Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is confidence of in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (New International Version)
            Regarding the case for the inerrant, unique, and wonderful nature of the Bible, feel free to google “Hank Hanegraaff MAPS” and find a useful PDF that gives a memorable defense for it.
            Best to all.

          • 22044

            After reading and noodling over the comments some more, I have a couple more pertinent points:
            Trusting in the Bible’s inerrancy is not enough to be a follower of Jesus, but it is necessary. My source: the introduction to “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer.
            And this is a hunch, but some of the people who posted here who defend the Bible’s inerrancy might be accused of setting up the Bible as a 4th member of the Godhead. I am certain that that accusation, if laid out, has no legs to stand on.

          • 22044

            Hey Digger. I post as a guest, so I could easily borrow your suggested handle.
            Some good points you made about the processes of evaluating evidence and making judgments. Everyone follows them, whether they’re aware of it or not. :)

          • Digger

            I say “Twenty-two, Oh, Forty-four, hut-hut-hike” in my head every time I see your handle now! It’s who you are! Cheers! :)

  • Geoff Ramsay

    You are a heretic, and I love you for it.
    You’re in good company – Like Jesus for instance.

    • Digger

      You are so desperate to be avant garde that you’ll call Jesus a heretic?

      • Geoff Ramsay

        On the contrary, I simply respect the proper use of words:

        “Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs.” – wiki

        There’s nothing ‘avant garde’ about my statement – it’s just a fact.

  • David

    “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    • Geoff Ramsay

      Yep, this was also quoted in the article.

    • Chaprich

      When Paul wrote 2 Timothy, the scripture he was referring to is what we call the Old Testament or the Hebrew Scripture. Note he describes those scriptures as “profitable” for doctrine, discipline and instruction in righteousness. He does not mention history or notions of origins in the list of scriptural benefits.

      • Drew

        And Peter refers to Paul’s writing as Scripture later on. What’s your point?

        • Chaprich

          My point is that we cannot use this passage to support a doctrine of inerrancy (as most understand inerrancy) Scripture, the OT (What Paul was writing about) is beneficial for doctrine (plan and history of salvation), discipline and instruction in righteousness. Paul does not claim the OT is the final authority on scientific explanations of origins. In fact the Bible does not know science.

          • Drew

            Agreed that it means different things to different people. I think, however, that the most common dividing line tends to be among people that think Scripture is inspired rather than Scripture that is God-breathed.

          • Amonite

            Or rather, they believe ‘inspired’ means something less than ‘God-breathed’. Theopneustos means God breathed it out, and coupled with the grammer used, that “EACH and EVERY” part of speech (inflected word form, scripture) was breathed out by God (written under divine inspiration).

          • Daniel Olson

            And if God breathed means perfect and infallible, then it is trustworthy. And if it is trustworthy then that means that whatever it clearly means to me is trustworthy. Certainly what God “breathes” cant be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Certainly Paul was perfect in his understanding of the Spirit and his letters were without error, and those who copied Paul’s letters from the original texts made no errors, and those who copied their copies…. etc.

            If we were to lose scripture, have no bible, would we find ourselves clinging closer to the Spirit for understanding in our daily walk, still learning and growing, or would we be destined to drift away without the life giving properties of scripture? To consider myself doomed to apostasy unless I have scripture to read and study seems awfully out of character for Gods plan of salvation.

            Whatever is not of faith, is sin. So if i do something out of compulsion, feeling of guilt, or if I just blindly follow someones instruction even though I dont understand it, it doesnt profit me spiritually? I bet this scripture is often misunderstood, but I think it means that unless i REALLY believe (am convinced in my Spirit) that a certain interpretation is right, Godly, wholesome, etc. I need not follow it. Even if that interpretation seems perfectly clear to someone else.

            and yet… even that is only MY interpretation. To expect others to embrace it is foolishness.

          • Amonite

            “And if God breathed means perfect and infallible, then it is trustworthy.” YES.

            “And if it is trustworthy then that means that whatever it clearly means to me is trustworthy.” NO.

            “Certainly what God “breathes” cant be misunderstood or misinterpreted.” NO.

            “Certainly Paul was perfect in his understanding of the Spirit and his letters were without error” NO and YES. He was a fallible man with imperfect understanding, like anyone, but his letters were without error as they were God breathed.

            “those who copied Paul’s letters from the original texts made no errors” Of course they did, hence why textual criticism studies original wording and why its important to search all of scripture to look for harmony and check for contradictions!

            “and those who copied their copies…. etc.” Of course there is some ‘copying’ variance and errors, which actually makes it *easier* to discover original wording. Again, textual critisism.

          • Amonite

            Everyone comes to salvation, initially, because they either read or heard from the scriptures personally, or were taught by someone who heard from the scriptures, etc. Faith comes by hearing.

            It is very true that someone without access to a Bible, or who had only a few pages, would be just as saved (and just as fruitful in their faith) as someone with access to the entirety of the Bible. In the early church, many churches only had access to the old testament and a few letters, for example. In other nations, some people share a Bible among a community, or only have access to a fragment. Access to scriptures isn’t nescessary to salvation.

            What is dangerous is the person of faith who has access to scripture and disregards them or only follows the parts they like or ‘feel’ are correct. “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for
            they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every
            day to see if what Paul said was true.” As followers of Christ, we need to follow Christ’s example and continually study the scriptures as -part- of abiding in Him. (II Peter 1:2-9)

            “Whatever is not of faith, is sin”

            Faith is being persuaded of what is credible and true. It is not “being persuaded in your spirit”. In a secular sense it refers to a warranty or guarantee. (Such as, though you do not see the goods *now*, you have this *guarantee* that they will come). Faith (the evidence of trustworthiness and credibility, and the illumination to understand it and be persuaded by it) is received from God, it is not generated from us. (We aren’t swayed by our own persuasion or wishful thinking or a gut feeling).

            Faith is not a ‘prompting’ by the spirit. It is not ‘choosing’ what we want to believe. It is God laying out His case (evidence, testimony, witnesses), and lifting the veil that we might understand it and be persuaded by it.

            Thus, when the believer eats food sacrificed to idols, such as in the romans passage, he trusts on the evidence God has given (faith) that idols are nothing. Thereby, he freely eats with good concience. If he is waffling, and still believes the idols have power, and worries that eating the food of an ‘idol’ will offend God and thus makes the idol into something, he is not trusting the evidence God gave, and thus does not have faith in that matter, and thus his eating would be idolatry and it is better for him to abstain until he has been persuaded (faith).

            “So if i do something out of compulsion, feeling of guilt, or if I just blindly follow someones instruction even though I dont understand it, it doesnt profit me spiritually?”

            No one is advocating any of these. In fact, many of the profitable uses of scripture fight against these. Scripture contains many admonitions of wisdom and self-control (fights against compulsions), elaborations of Jesus’s forgiveness and redemption (fights against feelings of guilt), and prioritizes the importance of faith and discernment (fights against ‘wishful thinking’, factions, and popularity cults). Also, one will be better prepared when someone twists scripture to respond (As Jesus did when Satan used scripture to tempt Him).

          • Patrick Wilson

            No, I think the true dividing line is between Scripture that is God-breathed and God written. What the author is saying is that all Scripture passes through the hands and times of man. And apart from the 10 commandments that God Himself carved in stone, all of Scripture is God inspired, but imperfect man written (or re-written and re-written and re-written). The adulterous woman is a perfect example of that. The earliest witnesses and manuscripts do not have John 7:53-8:11. Did God add that as a post-script decades or centuries later? Of course not. Man, at one point, likely got in the way and added something to make Jesus look better. He didn’t (and doesn’t) need it. HE is perfect and true. Anything touched by man is fallen.

          • Amonite

            Actually the Bible knows a lot about science. Parralax, pi, farming, astronomy, currents, subduction, tectonics, quantum physics, – you’d be surprised what’s in there 😉 One of the older commentaries I own takes frequent breaks to elucidate on scientific concepts in passages when it comes across them. While the Bible’s ‘purpose’ isn’t to be a scientific manual, it certainly is not errant in anything scientic. We have a reasonable God, a God of order, who sustains the cosmos. It makes sense that what we learn from our observations of the natural world lead us strait to Him.

            And Paul was not talking about the OT. He was talking about ALL SCRIPTURE. In the verse before he mentions the ‘Holy Scriptures’ (iera grammata) but he expounds on that to ‘pasa graphe’ (all scripture). ‘All’ here is ‘pas’, in the sense of a totality, every part that applies, not “one piece at a time” – so he is not referring to ‘use the OT as you need it to be relevant to your life, piecemeal’, but rather he means that ‘As from a child you were grounded in the scriptures and that their purpose was to lead you to salvation. That is good. With this you understood that they really led you to Christ your salvation. Now, understand also that all scripture (as a whole) is profitable for the sake of your heart: for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that you may abide in Christ and be equipped for every good work”.

        • Daniel Olson

          O btw I was hoping you would cite the verse regarding the above… since you mentioned it in a response to me as well. not doubting you just hoping to get the reference.

    • Brian Hager

      Profitable to whom and why? I am growing more and more concerned that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is being used as an excuse to attack the people who don’t agree with those doing the rebuking. In that case, from my own point of view people are being herded down a path that would force us all to read the Bible one way only. The Catholic Church tried to do that for centuries before the reformation and now certain radical denominations are attempting to return the favor.

      • Frank

        You can read the bible any way you want as long as you don’t change the unchangable message as some are fond of doing.

        • Daniel Olson

          Oh… Frank.. I like that!!!!

        • dapowellii

          So, how does one know what the “unchageable message” is?

      • Drew

        Again, you are worshiping postmodernism. The fault of the Catholic Church was not to teach the Bible one way, but rather to teach the Bible incorrectly.

        • Unabashedly Christian

          Humans are certainly fond of repeating a good “catch all”, especially one that can be mindlessly tossed out as a insult that makes the speaker sound knowledgeable. I’m not sure why it became vogue to accuse other believers of worshipping “post modernism.” But I have come to recognize that most of the folks who use the term as a pejorative, do so indiscriminately and with little understanding of what it actually means to be a post modernist. To be sure there are people out there who embrace the tenets of post modern philosophy. However it is just silly to accuse every believer striving for a deeper understanding of their faith of embracing post modern thought. 1 Thess 5:21

          • Drew

            This is a pseudo-intellectual response, written eloquently but devoid of any truth or substance.

            I am intelligent enough to understand what postmodernism is and how to use the term appropriately. I don’t use the term as a pejorative, except for the instances where someone adopts this as their worldview rather than having a Biblical worldview. I don’t accuse “every believer” of embracing post-modern thought; I don’t throw around the term mindlessly all the time.

          • Daniel Olson

            How does one “worship” post modernism? As i look at the guest’s comment… I dont see anything there that looks like worship. You have also accused me of embracing postmodernism. (which I actually had to look up to find out what it was i was alleged to believed).

            But among the pages of descriptions, I couldn’t find the part that says… i just want to make my walk with Christ WORK… something that wasn’t happening until I decided to throw out things I only believed because that’s what I was told to believe. Before I had lots of questions with answers that either defied analysis or just didn’t give me peace. Now I still have way more questions than answers, but I’m not so insecure about not having perfect answers. And I’m happy to put them up for intense scrutiny so i can find out if they are true or not. this wasnt the case before. I would get red in the face and say: “well thats what the bible says” even though i didnt understand it.

            Not sure if I agree with the whole “biblical world view” analogy as i have seen plenty of people use that term to justify their actions of political manipulation while they deny rights and decency to their fellow man which they themselves enjoy. I used to be that way. So… no I don’t want to embrace that “biblical world view”, I want to embrace Christ’s world view, which I can say I do only marginally so far..

    • dapowellii

      So are you implying that it’s ALL infallible, therefore it’s ALL applicable?

  • Jonathan Starkey

    Our business is to speak the Gospel out, it’s His business to confirm it.
    Imagine Athens back in Paul’s day. Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, the Gnostics, Pantheism, Emperor Worship

    Don’t be threatened by an intellectual climate, because you speak the word.

    Most apostles were not ignorant men, but they were not educated men in the sense of the Philosphies of the day, but they changed the Empire.

    Imagine rolling up in this climate of intellectuals, being unschooled in the modern debate. And starting to talk about this Jewish carpenter, who was murdered hung on a cross and resurrected and is now sitting at the right hand of the father and he will judge the world. And through him you have the forgiveness of sins.

    The Romans hated – Jesus is Lord, and the Jews the resurrection.

    Maybe errancy is cultural. If it’s cultural is it bad?

    • Jonathan Starkey

      It’s not a popular message. It’s
      not a popular message: There is another King around and there is another
      Government that you need to kneel to. So clean up your act whether it’s
      in business, or in politics, or in your family. It will not be popular.

    • Ford1968

      Hi Jonathan,
      I agree sharing faith is difficult. And I don’t think you’re advocating anti-intellectualism here (considering you seem to be a thinker yourself). I know we both take the bible seriously. I’d be interested to know how you feel about the notion of biblical inerrancy.
      Best to you!

      • Jonathan Starkey

        I don’t know. I’ll just go look up what other great teachers think on the subject. I’ve heard others talk about liberals who like to surround the Biblical inerrancy subject. It’s rubbish.

        I believe every passage of scripture can be proved or discussed to put into context.

        I’ve heard teachings on the Garden. And there are about a million different beliefs. And it can’t be proven, but I believe there are satisfactory answers and you can choos one that sits with you.

        I personally don’t believe that you have to have your Protology and Eschatology ironed out.

        I believe they compiled scripture accurately.

        I believe in the story of Israel. I believe Jesus is the Son of God.

        But I think there are certain things you should have ironed out. Like do you believe the Gospel.

        I just wonder why the RLC doesn’t get more solid Orthodox writers.

        I’m not going to call Zach a heretic.

        As much as the liberals like to poke at those who believe in Biblical inerrancy. They have to realize that they are the ones picking the fight. Christians are going to defend the Bible.

        Same way with abortion Christians aren’t picking the fight. It’s on the forefront of the conservative Christian radar because people are challenging justice for babies.

        Just like liberals will say Christians are homophobic,… look we’re not setting the agenda they are.

        Liberals will say why are you concerned with these subjects inerrancy, abortion, gay marriage, why not just love and be the hands of Jesus? Why not be helping the poor? My point is they are the ones picking the fight.

        It’s not like orthodox Christians are just walking around looking for someone to disagree with. Maybe some are, but these liberals also play a role in instigation.

        • Jonathan Starkey

          I want to reverse the question also, why is proving Biblical innerancy important to them.

          Now I understand in contemplative prayer activism. It sounds spiritual to say, “Who can really know?” or “who can really know God?”

          But I think it’s important for a Christian to say, “I do.” How do you know? “I know because I have scripture.”

          Pondering the mystery of God and Biblical inerrancy, shouldn’t send you into a Spiritual and moral crisis.

          Scripture has landed me solid.

          When I was stuck on “Who can know God? and is scripture really true. I was like into pantheism, and justifying homosexuality.

          Now because of reading the Gospels and Biblical revelation I’m like, no longer in a spiritual crisis.

          Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and there are no other Gods besides Him. No other religions have the Bible.

          Does the inerrancy question want to scrap Biblical morals? Is that all this is about?

          They want to accuse people of being addicted to certainty? I want to know the heart of their motivation. Do they want to get away with sin? Or are they just trying to sound super spiritual?

          • 22044

            Addicted to certainty. I don’t know about that.
            Should the counsel of Jesus at the end of His Sermon on the Mount about building a sure foundation be discarded?
            Is God’s grace limited that He can’t provide assurance of His love for His children?
            I could go on and on.
            Those questions seem ridiculous, but they get begged when advocacy for living with uncertainty gets put out there.
            I’m not trying to attack anyone, we are all on a journey & process.
            But the alternative makes no sense to me.

          • Jonathan Starkey

            Yeah, I think some go into this subject, because really solid Christians before them have gone there, but if you’re weak in the faith or even the elect can be deceived.

            If your pursuit of the subject has caused you to get blurry on who God or Jesus is, blurry that He is the only way and blurry about morals and sin.

            Maybe, move on to another area of study.

          • Ford1968

            Hi Jonathan,
            I can only speak for myself. The way that some people live into their beliefs about inerrancy cause demonstrable harm. While you may be able to argue that the concept itself is benign, there’s no way to credibly argue that the fruits of this theology are not often bitter. That’s contrary to the gospel as many of us understand it. And, for too long, those who have caused the most harm have been the most vocal. So I think this issue has so much heat because some see it as important to repairing our witness. No, I don’t think it’s fair to say this is about an attempt to change our morals. I think moral differences are a symptom of divergent views of how scripture informs (and forms) our faith. Finally, I think there is a strong negative reaction by many inside and outside the faith to the anti-intellectualism that seems to be celebrated in some parts of the Church.
            Thanks again for engaging in the discussion.
            All my best to you.

          • Jonathan Starkey

            Then I guess you can equally say, that those who are fundamental about inerrancy do harm, and those who are busy trying to myth bust the Bible are also doing harm.

            As with Jesus there is always a middle. As pointed out above you see that Jesus had an appreciation of the scriptures and spoke with one who had understanding and authority. Then you see that Paul also had a great appreciation of the scriptures.

            I’m not so sure about the contradictions, like I said any heavy lifting can be explained in context.

            Maybe people are making a statement about the Legalist you bump into Church on Sundays. Who blasts you with a scripture and says, “The Bible says it! Therefore I believe the Bible that’s it and that’s final!” And your standing there like what the hell just happened.

            I’m sorry, but that is know reason to error in the other direction.

            I wonder how many people commenting are filled with the Holy Spirit.

            When I read my Bible there is POWER. It is like O My God… inspired. So I really don’t give a rip what people think. God confirms it by His power. God confirms the Bible.

        • Ford1968

          Hi Jonathan. I love this response. Thank you for taking the time to respond. Your point is well made and well taken: some matters of orthodoxy are essential to the faith; otherwise it cannot be considered the same faith. Also, I’m not sure if any “side” can be blamed for the tension. I know from personal experience that the intense fight for orthodoxy and influence by some in the Church has caused immense harm to gay people like me. But I absolutely agree that those who hold orthodox beliefs are not usually operating out of malice; and, ironically, they are not treated with the Christian love of which they are excoriated for not showing. I long for the day when we can recognize, before all else, that we are God’s children and that Christians across the spectrum are bound by the love of Christ.

  • disqus_K1C87rKsYs

    Well, I happen to agree with the article. 1. What is the “word” or God? Is it the Bible, or is it Jesus? The Apostle John says that in the beginning was the “word” and the “word” was with God and the “word” was God. Now, was he talking about the Bible? Because I am pretty sure that a collection of letters amassed over several millennia did not become flesh and dwell among us. 2. Since this site is a red letter site, I might point out the Jesus is recorded as telling the religious folks of His day that they were searching the scriptures as if there was life in them, when they really pointed to Him, and yet they refused to come to Him to have life. I think Jesus might probably say something very similar to us today.

  • Ellen K.

    I’m disappointed to see so many unsupportive comments. I liked the article. I agree with most of it, including the basic premise. And I agree that we learn from people without needing them to be inerrant, and we don’t need the Bible to be inerrant to learn from it. Thank you, Zack Hunt, for this article.

    • SurvivorGirl

      Hear, hear! Well said! I recently read this statement by Peter Haas, author of the book “Pharisectomy:” “Smart people realize that you don’t need to see eye-to-eye to walk hand-in-hand. Biblical unity is not a by-product of thinking alike but of thinking together.”

    • Chuck

      Here’s the deal (I will “keep it simple, stupid”): I love Jesus. He died for my sins. I believe in Him. Also, God gave us “gray matter” between our ears, and I think He wants us to use it.” So, clearly the Earth is millions of years old. Clearly. Science and common observation make that abundantly clear, in my opinion. How could God have created the Earth in 7 “days”, when a “day” did not even exist until after the creation. Did Sampson REALLY take an ass’s jawbone and kill THOUSANDS of guys? What about Noah’s Ark? The answer is YES, God COULD have done these things. He can do anything, but I do scratch my head at the credulity of some of the stories. It would appear people wrote these stories, based on their cultures, to testify of God. Some are certainly true, and some are exaggerated. Stories from the Old Testament are sometimes identical. The same story happened twice, but to two different people. It seems like someone is telling one story but applying it to two different people.

      Some OT stories are similar to stories from OTHER peoples (not the Hebrews) in the same area, as if the stories are being passed from culture to culture.
      I still do not believe in evolution, but the more scientific information I read, there seems to be a fly in the soup somewhere with the whole creation thing.

      So, the Lord has made Himself apparent in my life time and time again. God is capable of getting his salvation message out to the world, and I know He did it through the Scriptures. I love every recorded word of Jesus that we have. But, as for the other books written by various people? Well, most if not all are truly inspired by the Spirit of God, but dubious as to any “infallibility”. I say “most” because Song of Solomon, Ruth? Well, they seem a bit sketchy (relatively speaking). That is not meant as disrespect, but just my humble observation.
      Years ago a friend and I had a glimpse of angels in the heavenly atmosphere, so I know that I know, that God is true. However, there is far, far more we DONT know than what we DO know, and as simple humans we misunderstand some things because we are not smart enough.

  • BertO

    Meh. To know that Scripture is inerrant is one thing. To claim to know
    and understand God well enough to fully comprehend the Word is
    something else altogether. It’s only ever been done by one human
    being. It’s Him and His teachings about and through the Word that we must follow.

  • Murphy

    As a non-christian, and from an outside perspective, I find this to be a very accurate read. Thank you for the insightful thoughts.
    I find it sad, how many who claim this christian faith seem enamoured of the great vanity in which they take their God’s name. And I find this phenomenon to be just that. Taking the name of a deity in your own vanity by noting that you know for certain that the entire book is spot on “right.” even disregarding the numerous translations that have different wordings, the only way you know whether it is “right,” word-for-word, is if this God fellow told you so… in which case I must wonder why he is choosing you over, say Paul of Tarsis. Or Peter. Or even Pope Francis or President Monson.
    You, personally are so perfect that God has chosen you, personally to know what the right translation is? I have a nice jacket for you….
    But I digress.
    A wonderful article, and I am sure the accuracy of it will be addressed by the amount of commentary disagreeing with it.
    Thank you.

  • The belief in biblical inerrancy is one of those obstacles my faith keeps running into. This article put into words something I’ve long felt but couldn’t explain. Thanks for writing it.

  • Ford1968

    I’ll only speak for myself and my own experience. I find that God reveals Himself powerfully in the contradictions of the bible. Biblical truth is like facets on a diamond. Are we really saved through grace by faith, or will we be separated into sheep and goats based on our works? What delightful and important tension! I can’t help but wonder if those who would flatten out the bible with certainty are not depriving themselves of God’s revelation through scripture.

    • otrotierra

      Exactly. And of course following Jesus cannot be conflated with following “the bible.” The two are not the same, and the latter is blatant idolatry.

  • Mark Munger

    A thought provoking article as I have been recently talking with others on this very topic and gives me additional items to consider, Thank You.

  • joejmz

    I think a differentiation needs to be made between what is written and the message conveyed by the writing.

    I’ve been interpreting and translating between Spanish and English for over thirty years. What makes interpreting difficult is that one has to know both languages well enough to be able to convey the meaning of what is communicated in one language to the other. Word for word translations are the worst way of doing this. Sentence structure, grammar, phraseology, and even culture give meaning to what we say to each other in the same language, but it is rare to the point of non-existence when all of those can be conveyed in a word for word translation. Imagine translating “You’re barking up the wrong tree,” word for word. It would have no meaning in Spanish and might even be taken as an insult.

    The Bible is translated from written languages that did not use spaces between words or sentences, did not have punctuation marks, and did not have capital letters, not to mention the differences in sentence structure and the intended meanings of particular phrases or words in a particular culture at a particular time in a particular area. To expect the written translation to be exact is ludicrous.

    Additionally, why would one expect that God-breathed means word-for-word dictation?

    The inerrancy of the Bible can only be a myth, the inerrancy of the message conveyed by the Bible is the foundation of our faith.

  • Frank

    What an embarrassing post both for the author and RLC. Wow.

    • 22044

      Zack Hunt isn’t the first one to project the flaws of humanity onto Scripture, and he won’t be the last.

      • Jonathan Starkey

        Pointing out the flaws of humanity onto scripture isn’t that Gnosticism?

        • 22044

          Hmmm. Maybe.
          My understanding of Gnosticism is that it’s a claim of having a special or secret knowledge of God. (the word Gnosticism comes from gnosis, meaning knowledge.) I believe it’s also related to having scorn for the physical body & attributes, having a hyper-appreciation of spiritual matters and seeking enlightenment by disconnecting the material from the spiritual.
          Like materialism is a serious error, Gnosticism would be an error in the opposite direction.
          It could certainly fly in the face of trusting Scripture as God’s word, because that would mean that Scripture has a message for all, and true Gnostics can’t handle that.
          I think I saw a comment earlier from you that man has always said, “God did not surely say…” I think that’s a very pertinent point that likely drives Mr. Hunt’s “dog that won’t hunt” proposal.
          Nothing new under the sun, I guess.

  • rockypresley

    I hate that Christians attribute heresy to those who question. It is a methodology in shutting down debate based in ignorance. So, I firstly do not believe that this writer is a heretic. It seems that the perspective hinges on two foundational elements, God breathed means inspired only and my opinion is that the scriptures aren’t completely accurate, so I will infer from the Bible and my own life to prove that point. I do see some errant tactics in approaching the subject by considering the premise the result of fact. That being said, the points were thought provoking and part of a discussion that I believe is valid for the Body of Christ to have, especially in the age in which we live where the scriptural foundations of the faith we confess is under constant scrutiny and attack.

    I wonder though if this is part of the “cool Christian” movement, where people do not want to deal with the theologically tricky portions of the Bible such as the scriptures on homosexuality, women, and just general governance of life and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the heart of God though it all, but would rather live their life as they see fit, and develop doctrine that are more mass culturally consumable, thereby establishing one as a beacon of cultural sensibility rather than a light unto the world. It is moral therapeutic deism at it’s core, where one wants to create a life in which they feel is good, which makes them feel good, but is not always attributed to the goodness of God.

    Another thought is this as it relates to God breathed. I do agree with many of the comments that God breathed does not mean not tempted. That was a pretty big whiff of a point, but I also consider John 1:1, which speaks that in the beginning was the Word. Most attribute this to Christ, but it does give this sense that the Word existed before man and will exist long after man is gone. The narrative was already laid out. It just hadn’t been written down. Most importantly though, that Word, if attributed to Christ, is perfect.

    Lastly, and this one is important to me, is why do we think that God chose to allow lies in his scriptures? What it boils down to me is what is true and what is not. What is a lie. If homosexuality is not an abomination to God (a scripture that makes the moral therapeutic deist’s teeth itch), then Paul was a liar, and because of this, none of his writings should be considered valid, or at the very least, a portion of Paul’s writings were breathed by the enemy of truth and not by God (I suppose one could argue that enemy doesn’t exist, in which case, you win.) To me this is where this argument quickly slips right down the slope, because to infer that scriptures that attribute abomination to an individual, and say that those thoughts are inspired by God and then turn around and say that many aren’t true, infers rather that we do not believe that the scriptures as a whole were inspired by God only, but were inspired by sinister forces as well. Therefore, our belief in the scriptures as a guide is an exercise in futility.

  • Brian Hager

    BTW, I think if people “really” want to know, what Jesus said and what he meant, study his life. How did he behave? How did he treat the people he interacted with? What was his attitude toward sinners and/or the pharisees? That opens a window to real Faith.

    • jonathan starkey

      In the context of understanding the first century and the story of Israel as found in the Jewish tradition and scripture.
      If you don’t have Scripture there are many things you would not comprehend.

      • Mack

        No. One. Has. Said. That. We. Don’t. Need. Scripture.


  • Greg

    Interesting Blog. In instances like this, I can only look at my own historical motives and beliefs over time. I have come to realize that most of my Christian upbring was nothing short of an indoctrinating experience with a book, albeit the Bible. I went to sunday school, listened to the sermons, took notes, memorized scripture, did a devotional here and there, went to youth group, went to christian college, etc….at the end of it…I was in a relationship with a book, and not the Resurected Lord!

    Christians do not have a relationship with a book. We have a relationship with the Crucified One. We have the opportunity to rejoice that we “participate in the DIVINE NATURE” (2 Peter 1:4). I really have no concept of what it means to participate in the Divnine nature, but it soungs a heack of a lot more inspiring than following a book.

    I love the book, I read the book, I study the book, I even teach the book…the book points us to a relationship with the Living God…but it isn’t what we’re called to make disciples of…We’re called to to make Disciples of Jesus.
    good read…thanks for posting.

    • 22044

      I think you’ve laid it out well here, we shouldn’t “follow the Bible” more than we should follow Jesus Christ. But the Bible lays out what following Jesus Christ is all about as it is intended to point to Him.
      But too many commenters think they are following Jesus Christ while knocking down the Bible – and that makes a fertile ground for bad theology.
      Jesus Christ Himself (this is not really for you as it is for others) holds up the entirety of Scripture as being valid. So I don’t know why some people who call themselves followers of Jesus denigrate Scripture, when He didn’t.

    • Drew

      I agree with you entirely on every point, Greg. However, what you said is not what I got out of this blog post.

      • 22044

        That’s what I’m having trouble reconciling as well.

      • Daniel Olson

        Were you looking for the good? Thats how I found good in it… even though as I stated i didnt agree with everything he said. I was looking for the positive… and i believe that is scriptural (hold onto the good… discard the bad.) If a brother gives me an apple and I find that has a bad spot… I can either eat the apple avoiding the bad spot and then discard it or throw the whole thing away.

        • Drew

          Two points – Point One is that I don’t see bad spots in this article but rather that the entire article is rotten, hence why I said previously that this is the worst article I’ve seen on this website. Point Two is that when we see false doctrine, we should point it out. Ignoring it is affirming it.

    • ^this guy sounds like Greg Boyd…

  • Keelan

    The Trinity is NOT: “God the Father, God the Son & God the holy Scriptures”

    John 1:1-4 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life…”


    • Drew

      And we know about Jesus from the Bible. What’s your point?

  • Tony Duncan

    I’ve got to say Mr. Hunt, I may not know why some believe that the Bible is perfect but I know that it is never a good to worship anything created.
    II Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

  • Dimitry Venokov

    Thank you for this article. It brings peace in a heart.

  • Michael Killick

    ‘For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ Jesus. Matthew 5:18. Apparently these ‘jot’ and ‘tittle’ things are punctuation marks in the Hebrew texts (or Aramaic or whatever), so they only exist in the written version(s). Jesus affirmed the perfection of that written law.
    Has God’s ability to arrange a written text lapsed since the recording of the Old Testament law? Is he not so good at punctuation as before? Did perfection go out with the coming of Jesus?
    The Bible affirms its own inerrancy for those who have ears to hear, to whom God can speak inerrantly even through its ‘mistakes’ and ours. And if you want to comment on what the Bible does or doesn’t say you need to know what it says.

    • Digger

      Amen! Surely, God will reward you when Christians are judged. He will reward you for contending for the faith. Well said, brother.

  • Reformed Heroine

    You are utterly laughable saying that “Biblical inerrancy is a 20th century fundamentalist invention.”

    Calvin wrote: “We should think about this rationally: what the Apostle called ‘no man can approach’ the surface light of the glory of God, for us, is like an unpenetrable maze, unless the Word of God guides us through.” However, if the Bible has errors, then the person must be at the disposal of her subjective sense to view the Bible verses to tell which of them is the Word of God, but if it is so, how can the Bible lead us to God? Thus Calvin stressed that God’s guiding Word cannot possibly err: “the belief that God can not lie, or that a lying God is still to be reliable, is not enough, unless you have no doubt to believe that everything out of Him is sacred and inviolable truth.” Seen in this light,” inerrancy “is not, as some Neo-orthodox advocates said, an invention of the seventeenth century Puritan scholasticism, or of the nineteenth century old Princeton Theological Seminary based on Scottish Common Sense Philosophy.

    For we have clearly seen that sixteenth century reformers already held the doctrine of “inerrancy” firmly in their faith. As Heinrich Bullinger has taught: “God is by His nature truth, justice, goodness, holiness, eternal life, and constant. His Word out from His mouth is in perfect accordance with His attributes: truthful, righteous, without hypocrisy, falsehood, error [Original: ohne Irrtum, namely “without error”), or evil motive, sacred, good, eternal, and constant. As Jesus said in the Gospels: “Thy word is truth.”

    Mark Noll also points out that the reason “inerrancy” as a theological term only appeared in the nineteenth century and afterwards, is because since the patristic period, the church had never cast doubt on the Bible and its inerrancy. Ancient churches were not debating whether or not the Bible could be wrong, but how to interpret the Bible and how the Bible applies to individuals, churches, and social life. When European Higher biblical criticism reached the United States, the old Princeton Theological Seminary was the only school of thought academically capable to counterbalance it. That they borrowed Scottish common sense philosophy in their academic arsenals does not entail that that the doctrine “inerrancy” is a product of Scottish common sense philosophy. “Inerrancy” is firmly held throughout the history of the Church’s understanding of the Bible, and the Scottish common sense philosophy is just the old Princeton theologians’ academic tool to defend the traditional biblical view of ancient church in front of its modern challengers.

    • Digger

      I didn’t read your entire, long post, but what I did read I enjoyed. Yes, inerrancy has been discussed since, at least, Augustine. And since it is discussed in the Bible, it is safe to assume that it has been a doctrine since the beginning of the Christian church.
      I found the arguments that inerrancy was a 20th century construct so silly that I assumed no one who held to that notion would pay any attention to anyone who does not hold to that notion. My actual assumption is that even the people who say those things don’t really believe it to be true; they just hope no one will look for themselves.
      Glad you discussed it in your post.

  • Stu Davies

    Interesting article but I disagree with some of your statements and conclusions. When you state that ‘good’ is not perfect you are forgetting the ‘very good’ at the end of creation – and this is ‘perfect’ in Hebrew. God did indeed create perfection as only He can. He transformed the dirt into humans, with the intermediary being the Holy Spirit, not the dirt itself.

    I think what you and the others who struggle with inerrancy need to examine is why that is, which you hinted at with your Noah’s Ark comment – it’s science and the origins of the earth. Unless there is another part of scripture you don’t believe?

    Once you realise this, you have to ask, am I believing the word of man over the word of God? Would those spirit inspired authors really have mixed up 6 days with 4 billion years?! I doubt it, or we’re saying that the Holy Spirt can inspire, He just isn’t very good at it.

    If you need help with the origins of the earth I recommend creation(dot)com – it helped me and could help you – the bible now makes better sense than the evolutionary worldview for me, and I have no issue with inerrancy, in fact it has made me a much stronger and affirmed Christian. On whether you need more faith to not believe inerrancy I disagree, as you are simply bowing to the pressure of the majority and taking the easy route.

    Please don’t start down the slippery slope of believing bible inerrancy, it just gets worse, as next you will accept anything and could end up leaving Christianity as so many do when their faith has no solid foundations, I don’t mean this rudely, but it really is a slippery slope. Jesus said we all need to believe the writings of Moses and i stand by that teaching.

    As a final note, (sorry for huge text), but a scientist named John Baumgardner did a Noah’s Ark feasibility study and found it was very much possible, I would recommend reading up on it.

    Thanks for the article though, very interesting!

  • Ellis

    I don’t really see anyone addressing the major issue Zack hits upon in this article: human imperfection. Let’s say the Bible is innerant–okay, fine, but even so, when we preach from it, read it, study it, or expound on it, it still has to pass through our broken perspective, our sinful nature, our errant selves. So what does it matter if the Bible is inerrant? We aren’t, and we’re the ones interacting with it. Are we capable of preaching the Bible perfectly? Of responding to it perfectly? Of understanding it perfectly? Is its content completely unburdened or unscathed despite its contact with us?

    How do you deal with this issue?

    • 22044

      A couple of things should help:
      God promises that the Holy Spirit, in a role like a helper, can expose the meaning of a Bible book or passage to someone genuinely seeking to understand it.
      Then there’s the classic maxim of repeat & practice. Keep reading Scripture, keep studying it, keep listening to trusted Bible teachers or preachers. Use a Bible reading plan to read the whole Bible. Do all these things with a humble posture. As you keep doing it, your understanding & application will improve.

    • Drew

      If the Bible is inerrant, and the error is from human imperfection of interpretation, then one could conclude that the truth is knowable and that an inerrant standard exists. We should get the truth right most of the time, and when we get it wrong, we have an opportunity to correct ourselves against an inerrant standard.

      If the Bible is errant, then when it comes to the errant parts, one would conclude that the truth is unknowable and that there is no standard (because the standard is errant). We should the truth wrong 100% of the time, and we cannot correct it (again because the standard is errant).

      Put it this way – it’s like saying why does an accurate map matter because the chance exists for people to read the map wrong anyways. Well, if the map is right, most of the time it works. If the map is wrong, it will never work.

  • jonathan starkey

    This is a Bit overkill, but only a partial list of the times Scripture is mentioned in the NT:
    Though you can’t get eternal life from scripture, scripture seems to be pretty important.

    Matthew 21:42 – Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the SCRIPTURES:
    Mark 12:24 – Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the SCRIPTURES or the power of God?
    Luke 24:27 – And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the SCRIPTURES concerning himself.
    Luke 24:32 – They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the SCRIPTURES to us?”
    Luke 24:45 – Then he opened their minds so they could understand the SCRIPTURES.
    John 2:22 – After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the SCRIPTURE and the words that Jesus had spoken.
    John 5:39 – You study the SCRIPTURES diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very SCRIPTURES that testify about me,
    John 7:38 – Whoever believes in me, as SCRIPTURE has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
    John 10:35 -and SCRIPTURE cannot be set aside
    Acts 8:32 – This is the passage of SCRIPTURE the eunuch was reading:
    Acts 8:35 – Then Philip began with that very passage of SCRIPTURE and told him the good news about Jesus.
    Acts 17:2 – As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the SCRIPTURE,
    Acts 17:11 – Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the SCRIPTURE every day to see if what Paul said was true.
    Acts 18:24 – Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the SCRIPTURES.
    Acts 18:28 – For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the SCRIPTURES that Jesus was the Messiah.
    Romans 1:2 – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy SCRIPTURES

    • Drew

      Acts 17:11 – Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the SCRIPTURE every day to see if what Paul said was true.

      This is an extremely important passage for this discussion. How do we know if something is true? Scripture – Sola Scriptura.

      • jonathan starkey

        Check this out: Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.
        What advantage is it to being a jew….. a well ” First of all,”… LOL

        • jonathan starkey

          Romans 3:1

    • Mack

      Maybe I’m dense, but what does this post have to do with the article? Did you literally do a word search on “SCRIPTURE” and copy and paste it?

      • jonathan starkey

        Uh, no maybe. You are dense.

  • David Westfall

    The question for me is: how much of God *himself* is actually bound up in what Zack is calling imperfect—such that denying the bible’s inerrancy on the matter constitutes a denial of something about the identity of God himself?

    Another way of putting my concern is: if as Christians we believe God’s very identity to be bound up with his act, with what he has done in the history of his creation, then how can we allow for the denial of the bible’s accuracy at least on certain points of history without actually denying something about God himself? It’s all very well, perhaps, to say with reference to the story of Noah that the narrative reveals the “truth” that God “watches over and cares for his creation even in the midst of a storm”—but this is basically an allegorization; it treats the Noah story as a fable with a kernel of abstract and general theological truth, and not as an actual account of God’s acts of judgment and merciful redemption (which is precisely what that narrative describes the flood to be, however unpalatable it might seem as history to the modern reader).

    We might feel like we can get away with that to an extent when we’re dealing with Noah—call it a theologically astute re-reading of ancient near eastern flood myths or something of that sort. But what about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What about Moses and David? For the Israelite, the very identity of God was bound up with the fact that he, YHWH, had in historical fact delivered them from slavery in Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. This historical action on God’s part, coupled with his historic covenantal promises at Sinai, formed the basis of Israelite faith—that God would be true to his covenant and that he would rescue his people from further disobedience. He was and is, forever, “YHWH who brought us out of Egypt.” Nothing less than this is at stake for Christians too, since the central confession of our faith is precisely that within our own history, our own time and space, God himself took up our broken humanity, in order to renew and restore it through the historical events of his life and ministry, his death, his resurrection, ascension, and future coming.

    In other words, biblical faith is rooted in time and in space, in the concrete action of God in time and in space to carry forward his saving purposes in the world. We confess faith by confessing what God has done. The denial that chips away gradually at his concrete and historical action amounts to nothing less than a diminution of the very identity of the living and acting God himself—for inasmuch as God’s identity is bound up with his act, with his judgments and mercies in time and in space, his identity is subject to the historical veracity of those events. The God who did not really and actually bring Israel out of Egypt; the God who did not really and actually bring forth from the dead his Son, Jesus our Lord—is not the true and living God of the bible, and if we cannot trust in the actuality of these events, we cannot claim to be placing our faith in this God. We may be putting our faith in *a* god, but it could hardly be him. God has put his very identity at stake in the question of whether certain historical events have or have not happened.

    The point I am making, I think, is simply that our faith does indeed have its grounding in the bible itself—in its basic historical accuracy, granted the difference between ancient and modern conventions of historiography—and that it is not for this reason anything less than faith in God himself. For God has pledged his very identity, has staked his very identity, on what he has done—on the becoming flesh of his own identity in time and in space. Perhaps what I am pleading for, at any rate, is that our discussion of inerrancy not fail to recognize that something *is* at stake when we talk about the bible’s accuracy, even if that something is not what the evangelicalism of the past century or so has made it out to be. We would do well to consider the question: how much “error” can the bible admit while still giving us the same God, as anything more than a fantasy? I cannot back down from affirming the bible’s truthfulness about certain things, at least, because the God I worship is none other than the God whose identity comes to expression and fulfillment in historical flesh and blood.

    • David Westfall

      Or perhaps another way of putting is, having faith in the bible’s *contents* does not amount to having faith in the bible itself over and against faith in God.

    • Drew

      To further your point…

      John 20:29-30 – “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

      In other words, for those that were not able to meet Jesus in person during his life on earth, the Gospels were written down so that we may believe in Jesus, and that by believing that we may have life.

    • Neil

      HI there,

      I have struggled with this issue and still not come to a settled position. I really liked your point David that the redemptive acts are historical events and the only way we access them is through the scriptures (hope I’m understanding you right)…that makes a lot of sense.

      The thing I struggle with is that the new testament doesn’t seem to be written to answer a modern historical issue but to tell the story of Jesus, to deal with issues in the new fledgling churches etc.

      The place I seem to be at the moment is that God works IN history, people record the events and the outworking of those events in what we have come to call the NT. Those writings, (as the only available source we have to Gods action in history except maybe word of mouth being passed down), carry authority to speak into our lives today of the redemptive power of the Historical events and how that can be worked out in our present churches/communities today.

      On the specific issue of a word study of what ‘God Breathed’ means in Timothy and the Blog authors link to Genesis, I will have to go and do my homework as its a long time since I looked at it, from memory my thinking is that the Greek word in question θεόπνευστος has no prior uses before Paul and this passage, therefore its up to us (as the community of believers) to figure out what His meaning was. It could be that Paul means the Bible is inerrant but I would then ask if that may be a more platonic line of thought than a 1st Century Jewish one. I will have to go and do my homework :)

      maybe we should ask God to breath upon us to help us to understand.

      I hope this adds something to the debate and helps people to love Jesus all the more for what He has done and is doing in History.

  • Atlee

    Interesting that an article attempting to show that scripture is not absolutely infallible accepts Paul Tillich’s definition of faith as authoritative. Why is that your definition of faith? It’s not the definition held by many of your opponents, so need to provide some support for it, Mr. Hunt. If you want to show that scripture denies the infallibility of scripture, then maybe you should go to scripture to define faith. Sadly, you can’t do that, because scripture defines faith thus: “Now faith is being SURE of what we hope for, and CERTAIN of what we do not see.”

    Fundamentalists like myself don’t really care what the church has historically said about infallibility, because it is our goal to remove accrued tradition and go back to original sources. However, I must point out that your pro-uncertainty position isn’t much older than fundamentalism. The ancient and medieval church may have interpreted scripture more allegorically/ symbolically than fundamentalists do, but symbolic language is nothing like error, and no serious theologian would have suggested that scripture contained actual error until after the advent of existentialism. The fact that Kierkegaard is a tad older than fundamentalism doesn’t change the fact that his movement is just one more silly intellectual fad (“hey guys, what if begin sure was actually a bad thing? Wouldn’t that be wild?). You see, that’s why fundamentalists try to identify and hang on to fundamentals, doing so keeps us from saying that trusting God (having faith) means trying
    really hard to have no idea what he’s telling you, and other dumb ideas like that.

  • Daryl Stewart

    I may have missed the point. Where, exactly does the Bible say it is not inerrant? Don’t get me wrong, I want to seriously consider the notion, but I think I may need a diluted version, as I do not claim to know Greek or Hebrew and I am somewhat of a novice to the field of scriptural criticism, etc. Do you have time to break it down a little for me? I am a blogger and red-letter Christian.

  • JayBee

    “25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. 26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:25-27) A few points: 1) Here the law is described as “perfect” and not just good. And yes, I know what “the law” refers to here. 2) The reason it is perfect is not dependent on it always being historical or scientific fact. It is perfect because it reveals Jesus who is perfect love. Jesus said, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40). Scripture itself does not give us life. It points us to Jesus, the Living Word, in whom we find life. 3) The evidence that we are “in Christ” is in our doing of the perfect law which is neatly summed up repeatedly in the New Testament as “Love God, and love your neighbor.” 4) If think that the Bible is a book that God gave us merely as the ultimate authority on doctrine and morality, we would naturally want it to be perfectly credible (true). If it isn’t “true” then our doctrinal/ethical foundation is threatened and we get scared and start popping off quick (and often unloving) criticisms and rebuttals to those who threaten our foundation. But perhaps the foundation is wrong. Isn’t our true foundation Jesus the Christ? James reminds us of something very important here. It is not about your position on the Bible (how you hear it). It is about what flows out of our lives (how you do it) as a result of coming to know the perfect of love of God, through Jesus Christ, the living Word. James identifies bridling the tongue. In this day and age, the mark of a Christ one might very well be one who bridles his fingers as they type out words on theology blogs and social media. It certainly is marked by humbly caring for the least of these rather than proudly promoting the rightness of our beliefs about scripture by belittling and questioning the “Christian status” of those with whom we disagree. When we look into scripture, lets not so much look to try to prove or disprove that it is “true.” Let’s look for Jesus Who is the Truth! Blessings!

    • Drew

      “It is not about your position on the Bible (how you hear it). It is about what flows out of our lives (how you do it) as a result of coming to know the perfect of love of God, through Jesus Christ, the living Word.”

      Jesus disagrees with you; Revelation 2:18-29, Church at Thyatira. Doctrine matters.

  • platypusfriend

    Question: Can something be perfect, yet still retain the free will necessary to scar its own perfection?

  • Sapient1

    Hi Zack

    Re: “I tried pointing out to my inquisitor that Biblical inerrancy is a 20th century fundamentalist invention, not something which is actually intrinsic to the Christian tradition, but things like “facts” and church history are but minor inconveniences to the religious zealot.”

    All that is very interesting….speaking of facts….

    Reckon why Paul would say something like:

    “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ…” Galatians 3:16

    Hanging the entire argument on the accuracy of one word being singular instead of plural….?

    Funny thing, Christ did the same thing when asked about the Resurrection in Matthew 22–

    “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

    Jesus hung the doctrine of the Resurrection on the tense of a single word…certainly not the way I would have done it…but it sure seems He was quite secure with the accuracy of the Bible…

    And of course, we have the whole Matthew 5:18 statement:

    “18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

    There Jesus mentions the smallest letter, the equivalent of our comma, and the smallest stroke that makes a difference, ie as between an F and E….

    They said it was that accurate…I go with them.
    God bless

  • dapowellii

    This is interesting – is the logical conclusion of this position that the Bible is largley metaphor? If so, what parts are metaphor and what parts are literal?

  • “It’s found in the message of a God who watches over and cares for His creation even in the midst of a storm.”

    Really? I find the story of Noah’s Ark to, instead, be a story about a god who throws a temper tantrum (Hmm. Anger. A weak human emotion) and wipes out 99.999% of humanity. He then later feels remorse (Another human emotion) and creates a rainbow.

    It’s nothing more than silly superstition invented by primitive desert dwellers. The god of the Bible is as petty an invention as anything we’ve ever seen.

  • Aaron David

    Way to accuse God of lying and His kids of evil for believing Him. Good luck with all that, scorner.

  • Vince

    We can discuss the inerrancy of the Bible but let’s get the facts straight. This statement is false:

    “I tried pointing out to my inquisitor that Biblical inerrancy is a 20th century fundamentalist invention,
    not something which is actually intrinsic to the Christian tradition, but things like “facts” and church history are but minor inconveniences to the religious zealot.”

    The early church fathers believed in biblical inerrancy including Augustine, Gregory Nazianzen, Origen, Clement of Alexandria,Tertullian, Jerome and others such as John Owen, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards and on and on. These quotes are easily found on the internet. This debate is not new; it has been going on for 2000 years and was not invented by 20th century fundamentalists, they only emphasized the word “inerrant”.

    I would also debate that Jesus taught the Bible was God’s word and inspired. In Gen 2:24 Moses wrote “for this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife” When Jesus quoted this passage in Mt 19:4-5 He did not say that Moses wrote but that He (God) said, indicating that Moses wrote what God said to him.

    Mt 29:22 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” This would indicate that if they knew the scriptures they would not have doctrine that was in error. He could not say this if the scriptures might be wrong.

    There is also the issue of faith. You say I cannot have faith because I believe the Bible to be inerrant; however my faith is not in the Bible but in Jesus Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you must believe the Bible to be inerrant to be saved. Our faith must be in the only one that can
    save us from our due punishment. I believe we can have fellowship no matter what we believe about inerrancy, you seem to not share the same view.

    If you don’t believe the Bible to be inerrant than you need to show where the errors are.

    It is my humble observation that this Red Letter movement seems to like to “beat the sheep” so to speak. It has very harsh words for fellow Christians but does not seem too concerned for non-believers souls. This article is an example; it is not debating between Christians about our mutual faith and encouraging one another in the faith (Heb 10) but dividing Christians (like calling people zealots). This site seems to reject traditional theology and doctrine that Christians have believed for 2000 years and wants to replace it with a “new” theology you have “discovered” that no one else has thought of before. Jesus wrote the entire Bible and not just the red letters, he said so himself.

  • Joe Egan

    Allow me to point out a blatant falsehood that’s contained in this article:

    According to Mr. Hunt, “I tried pointing out to my inquisitor that Biblical inerrancy is a 20th century fundamentalist invention, not something which is actually intrinsic to the Christian tradition, but things like ‘facts’ and church history are but minor inconveniences to the religious zealot.”

    However, in the 17th century, the writers of Westminster Confession of Faith (circa 1646) stated:

    IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

    V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

  • JoaoCarlos Pires

    thank you for this article!!
    I believe that alot of Christians simply Idolize the bible of God rather than the God of the Bible. In other words, they would rather have a relationship with their Bibles rather than a relationship with God himself. Christians need a perspective shift.

  • Brian Forbes

    The difference is this. In court, you tell the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But you know in hearing it that every court testimony is not complete with every detail, maybe not even every relevant detail. That it isn’t complete doesn’t make it in error. And we know that the Bible doesn’t have every detail either. And we don’t even hear much of what is written down properly.

    “Faith, as Paul Tillich say,” – You made a typo, therefore everything you’ve ever written is in error! Even those who hold to Biblical inerrancy don’t hold to the straw man you built up and then tore down. Jesus defeated the devil using scripture. If Jesus didn’t trust those words that come from the mouth of God, how could those words have saved Him in his time of temptation?

    So given the choice of my own ideas about life vs. God’s revelation through his prophets (Mt. 5:17-18), I choose to trust God AND his prophets. Better to be guilty on that day of believing Paul or Isaiah, or Abraham than to have to defend your actions without having them in your corner.

    I won’t judge you for not trusting God… because I’m commanded not to judge you.

  • Ethan Hagen

    I agree with what this article is stating very much so, but some of the claims the author is making were not backed up. This would be very hard to show an unbeliever and have them take it seriously since everyone is so obsessed with backing up every claim made. Please note that I am supporting this article and the ideas portrayed, I just think a little more backing of claims would really help the article to be taken more seriously by unbelievers.

  • Trevor

    Interesting and well put. Certainly inerrancy for me has been a problem. Jesus never said “believe in me and also all these things that are yet to be written about me”. Believing in Jesus was at the moment, without condition. Your article has helped me understand this more.

  • Ishmael Ish-mizzy Ngwenya

    He (GOD) Himself, breathed and that’s His Word.

  • CJ Pankey

    “When we affirm inerrancy, we ascribe perfection to the creation rather that to the Creator.”

    I’ve been thinking for a while that those who claim inerrancy and use Romans 1, i.e. they worship creation instead of the Creator, to argue against LGBT people are in fact doing the very same thing by worshiping creation, the Bible, instead of the Creator. Great article.

  • Concerned

    The more I read about the thinking of the RLC writers the more shocked and dismayed I become from these heretical views. Please stop trying to lead folk astray with your unbiblical claims. There will be a price to pay if you don’t as we will all have to give an account to God one day. But maybe you don’t believe that…?

    • stabber

      Why is it unbiblical?

  • Michael

    This article is simply wrong. Please don’t believe it right of the bat and neglect to study this issue further. The most obvious problem is that he states that the Scripture never claims to be perfect. If you truly think that could be the case, then please read: 2 Peter 1:20-21 (The Holy Spirit, and all His work is perfect. Thus He guided it, with perfection, throughout the intermediary stage of man.) John 17:17, Revelation 22:18-19, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (and no, God-breathed doesn’t mean it’s not perfect. In fact every act of God is perfect. Thus, if Scripture is God-Breathed, it too must be perfect). There are many more, you can just Google them. Secondly, he says that mankind wasn’t perfect in the Garden of Eden because there was temptation. However, temptation is not sin. In fact, Jesus was tempted by Satan to break His fast in the desert (Matthew 4). And, as I hope is obvious, Jesus was perfect. Further, Romans 5:12 states that: “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” So yes, people were perfect before sin entered the world through Adam’s direct disobedience to God eating the fruit He said not to (this verse isn’t ignoring Eve, but she is grouped in with Him. They were one flesh and they sinned and fell from grace together.). I don’t have time to continue, but I beg you to keep on studying this topic, and don’t just accept the lie that Scripture is fallible because one guy says it is.

  • former CE

    The Bible should not be worshipped he is right inspired by the holy spririt doesnt mean it is perfect he is right about scripture

    2 Peter 20 to 21 never said the Bible is perfect.

    Conservative readers of the bible have got it wrong for hundreds of years for example witch hunting, slavery, women, world being flat, blood transfusions, hair cuts, hats and so soon we will add homosexuality to that list.

    Every act of God is perfect… why does he change his mind throughout scripture? Noahs Ark, Isaac pauls teaching of grace compared to jesus teaching on work?

    I am a Christian but the Bible is not perfect and nowhere does it say it is. I worship Father son and holy spririt NOT father son and holy bible

    • Widge Widge

      Great post

  • John Tew

    I have doubt that faith must contain doubt. I can have perfect faith in a future event without any mixture of doubt. If cars had not been invented when your Mother gave you the advise she gave would it be considered bad advise? In the fullness of time her advise was perfect, but it was also perfect in the first case.

  • neojeremiah

    Interesting topic. I agree with the concept, but I have to correct you on your final thought. ‘Paul’ was decidedly not an apostle. Oh sure, it does say so right in the bible that he was. And who wrote that? Why, Paul himself. Aside from himself and his lackey, Luke, not one person in the bible refers to Paul as an apostle. Yet he claims that title over and over in everything he wrote.

    It’s also fascinating that according to historical records, Paul was rejected by all churches in Asia, especially Ephesus. He actually points that out in his final letter to Timothy. (2 Timothy 1:15)

    And the only time Ephesus is mentioned outside of Paul’s derogatory comments toward and about them is when Christ commends the church of Ephesus for trying “them who say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” (Revelation 2:2)

    I actually found it rather odd that the only churches Christ addresses in the letters he commands John to send out are all in Asia. Again, the same area that Paul says rejected him. (Note that Paul doesn’t say they rejected Christ. He specifically says they rejected him personally.)

    On a final note… Christ describes New Jerusalem as having 12 foundations. One for each apostle. (Revelation 21:14) There is no 13th apostle. ‘Paul’ is not one of the 12.

    Just something to add to your thoughts about bible inerrancy.

  • Ian Thompson

    Zack, you might like to check out Thy Word Is Still Truth Ed. by Lillback and Gaffin which includes a section by B B Warfield on the doctrine of inerrancy having always been the church’s position on the authority of scripture.

  • Brett Huebner

    Tyou for your thought-provoking article, Zack.

  • Tom Kirkham

    I have nothing good to say about this article. I am not a fundamentalist, but I really do not see how one can justify a statement like “I don’t believe in Biblical inerrancy” and justify that the Bible confirms that stance by extending Adam’s imperfection with Biblical errancy. If Biblical errancy was indeed the case, we would have heard about it long before now.
    I think Zack is a victim of Post-Modernistic thought being taught in liberal seminaries.
    If we are to have a basis for Truth, it needs to be a well grounded and unchanging medium. That would be the Bible…. I know of no other basis for universal Truth. If you start to dilute Scripture by saying some of it is in error, than you are destroying the basis for Christian morality and Christian Apologetics. If there is no basis for Truth, then everyone can have their own truth system. This feeds right into the Relativistic Humanist worldview that we see in the unbelieving world today.

  • Sven_Golly

    If God (therefore Jesus) is perfect why wouldn’t Jesus have left a written scripture for man to follow?

    I say God IS perfect and since he did not leave or direct a Bible to be compiled, then no reliable Word of God exists (since all we have are a hodgepodge of books written and compiled by very fallible men. Men with agendas and delusions of grandeur.)

    The only thing that testifies to the accuracy of the Bible is the Bible itself. And no one can read the well-documented proceedings of the first Ecumenical Councils that created the Bible and not see the infighting and positioning for power by most of those present.

  • Alan Smiley

    How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? Jeremiah 8:8 (NIV)

  • Ryan Delcambre

    I would like to share my humble opinion about this article. As I have to consider God will hold me accountable for the information that I share here. Anything that I say that is unbiblical could lead others to belive in statements made so I make an effort only to share biblically backed information along with my personal thoughts. I am also not a certified nor qualified teacher by any means. However, I belive I am able to share some solid “food for thought”,
    I believe its important in teaching anything biblically centered it must have scripture attached to each paragraph or statement made. If not, It is easy for a person to get lost or misled in the article which may be teaching false doctrine but claim to be good doctrine.
    For example, He brought up the term Faith,which is a part of the context in such a paper, but didn’t list the verse which tells the source of Faith for ALL MANKIND. Romans 12:3 states that God gives each man a measure of Faith. It also doesn’t say that we all get an equal amount.
    Its critical that we know this before we BOAST about our understanding about Faith or the word of God. It is also important that we consider other scripture which indicates that God is sovereign. Would God allow His instruction be flawed on its contents? Sure the men who wrote it were not perfect, but they were led, instructed, and entrusted by God whom is perfect.

  • This is excellent! Probably because it agrees with what i already believe, but you presented it well. Mainly:
    >>Anything touched by humans who are by definition flawed is by definition flawed. Obvious. The Bible is not meant to be a rule book or weapon, it is (they were) INSPIRED by God to INSPIRE us.
    >>If Adam and Eve (representing earthlings and life) started out perfect they wouldn’t have eaten the fruit. Of course not, we are made out of dust (which contains atoms and all the building blocks of life) and water! Nothing in nature is “perfect”; that is a completely false concept created by us.

    This also leads me to conclude that “God would not create us imperfect and then blame us for it.” So i can’t believe the life and death of Jesus is a “payment,” aka the “transaction theory.” I think Jesus “contains God” in that his life, actions, words and death show us what God is. He literally “embodies” the pre-existing logos/truth/expression that God already loves us totally and completely and always has. I agree with people that there should be justice, so either in this life or in the afterlife we will face the consequences of our actions, but that can’t include an “eternal fire,” which is serious overkill. If we don’t accept God’s love at some point, rejecting “his” love may be its own punishment. But i also find it hard to believe that any soul or being that comes in contact with the “Spirit that pours over us like liquid love” would then reject it.

    Oops i only wanted to give you kudos for the blog, didn’t mean to pontificate! Sorry sometimes i can’t help myself. :)

  • smittyiam

    I wonder if 1st Peter is in this writers Bible?

  • John Tew

    Using ones mother to teach about God is like using a screen door to teach the workings of a submarine door. I would guess that you get just as much enlightenment from reading Harry Potter as you do the Holy Bible?

  • Isn’t there a very big difference between having faith in your mother and faith in an invisible, inaudible Being? I trusted my mother because I had hundreds/thousands of experiences with her that gave me evidence of her reliability. What evidence can a believer have of the reliability of Jesus Christ? Have you seen Jesus? Have you heard Jesus’ voice? What percentage of your prayers have been answered? Not prayers like, “Lord, help me to have good day” but “Lord, I need to pay the hospital bill for my sick child, tell my boss to give me a raise TODAY.” My experience is that the success of answered prayer is no better than chance.

    So if you don’t rely on the inerrancy of the Bible for proof of the truthfulness of Christianity, then all you have left is relying on your own feelings and intuition. Mormons, Muslims, and Hindus have just as intense and devout feelings and intuitions about their faith as do Christians.

    I agree. The Bible is NOT inerrant. It is loaded with errors and contradictions. And it isn’t just one issue that casts doubt on the inerrancy of the Bible, it is many. But the biggest problem of all is this: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were NOT written by eyewitnesses. We have no evidence to support the claim that they were. We therefore have zero evidence for the Resurrection whatsoever. And without a Resurrection, Christianity is just another superstition-based middle-eastern religion.

    • Widge Widge

      Matthew and John are but as you say it is difficult to prove I suppose that is why we talk about faith

  • I am a former Christian. I loved being a Christian. I loved Jesus and I loved the Bible. I used to love witnessing to non-believers and loved defending my belief in (the Christian) God and orthodox/conservative Christianity. Then one day someone challenged me to take a good, hard look at the foundation of my beliefs: the Bible. I was stunned by what I discovered.

    1. The Bible is not inerrant. It contains many, many errors, contradictions, and deliberate alterations and additions by the scribes who copied it. The originals are lost, therefore we have no idea what “God” originally” said. Yes, its true—Christians can give “harmonizations” for every alleged error and contradiction, but so can the Muslims for errors in the Koran, and Mormons for errors in the Book of Mormon. One can harmonize anything if you allow for the supernatural.

    2. How do we know that the New Testament is the Word of God? Did Jesus leave a list of inspired books? Did the Apostles? Paul? The answer is, no. The books of the New Testament were added to the canon over several hundred years. Second Peter was not officially accepted into the canon until almost the FIFTH century! So why do all Christians accept every book of the New Testament as the word of God and reject every non-canonical “gospel”? Answer: the ancient (catholic) Church voted these books into your Bible. Period.

    There is nowhere in the OT or the NT where God gives men the authority to determine what is and what is not his Word. If Second Peter was really God’s Word, the entire Church should have known so in the first century.

    3. Who wrote the Gospels? We have NO idea! The belief that they were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is based on hearsay and assumptions—catholic tradition. Protestants denounce most of the traditions of the Catholic Church but have retained two of the most blatant, evidence-lacking traditions, which have no basis in historical fact or in the Bible: the canon of the NT and the authorship of the Gospels.

    The only shred of evidence that Christians use to support the traditional authorship of the Gospels is one brief statement by a guy named Papias in 130 AD that someone told him that John Mark had written a gospel. That’s it! Papias did not even identify this “gospel”. Yet in 180 AD, Irenaeus, a bishop in FRANCE, declares to the world that the apostles Matthew and John and the associates of Peter and Paul—Mark and Luke—wrote the Gospels. But Irenaeus gives ZERO evidence for his assignment of authorship to these four books. It is well known to historians that it was a common practice at that time for anonymously written books to be ascribed to famous people to give them more authority. For all we know, this is what Irenaeus did in the case of the Gospels.

    The foundation of the Christian Faith is the bodily resurrection of Jesus. If the story of the Resurrection comes from four anonymous books, three of which borrow heavily from the first, often word for word, how do we know that the unheard of, fantastically supernatural, story of the re-animation of a first century dead man, actually happened??

    Maybe the first book written, “Mark”, was written for the same purpose that most books were written in that time period—for the benefit of one wealthy benefactor, and maybe it was written simply as an historical novel, like Homer’s Iliad; not meant to be 100% factual in every detail, but a mix of true historical events as a background, with a real messiah pretender in Palestine, Jesus, but with myth and fiction added to embellish the story and help sell the book! We just do not know for what purpose these books were written!

    I slowly came to realize that there is zero verifiable evidence for the Resurrection, and, the Bible is not a reliable document. After four months of desperate attempts to save my faith, I came to the sad conclusion that my faith was based on an ancient superstition; a superstition not based on lies, but based on the sincere but false beliefs of uneducated, superstitious, first century peasants.

  • Dear Friends,

    As an agnostic, humanist, naturalist, and frequent critic of all fundamentalist religions, in particular fundamentalist Christianity, I know you view me as the enemy. But I am actually a friend; a friend trying to rescue you; a friend trying to rescue you from a false belief system; a friend trying to rescue you from a cult.

    Imagine that I am a friend or family member and imagine that I have joined a new belief system, a belief system that believes in black magic, witches, wizards, and evil goblins that have the power to control one’s brain. In this belief system I am taught that “the movement” is right, and everyone else is wrong, and not only wrong, but evil. I am told that all my friends and family who are not members of this belief system are incapable of seeing the truth because evil goblins control their minds and blind them to the “hidden” truth that only members can see. I am told not to listen to my non-member friends and family. I am told to obey and follow, without question, the teachings of our “error-free” holy book. I am told that the leaders of the movement have special, advanced training in “the truth” and therefore I should trust that they understand the truth better than I as a layperson ever can.

    So what would you do if you really cared about me? Would you leave me in this cult without lifting a finger to rescue me? Would you refrain from criticizing my new belief system for fear of insulting me? I hope not.

    What I hope you would do is this: You would try to expose me to information that would open my eyes to the delusion that my cult has convinced me to believe as absolute, unquestioned truth. You would ask me to read information that counters the supernatural claims of my cult. You would not let me live my entire life in this false, delusional belief system without making an effort to rescue me.

    That is what I am attempting to do for you, friends. I am attempting to rescue you from a false belief system; a false belief system based on the powers of the supernatural; on the powers of MAGIC. You have been convinced that the world is controlled by magic.

    Your magical belief system tells you that witches exist and have the power to call up the dead (I Samuel chapter 28). Your magical belief system teaches you that wizards can turn walking sticks into snakes (Exodus chapter 7). Your magical belief system teaches you that goblins (demons) can enter and possess massive herds of pigs (Mark chapter 5) driving them to commit suicide. Your magical belief system tells you that blindness can be healed by rubbing mud and spit into someone’s eye sockets (John chapter 9).

    This is not a rational, informed, belief system, friends. This is an ancient, scientifically ignorant, superstition. It is magic.

    I once was a member of your cult. I know how you think. I know how your magical beliefs seem so real. But it is a delusion my friends. It isn’t real. If it were real we would still witness these fantastic, magical events occurring today…but we don’t, do we? Think about that: so many magical events allegedly occurred several thousand years ago, but you have never seen one single magical event occur in your lifetime, have you? And neither has any other rational, educated human being living today.

    It is odd how magic never happens when there are television cameras, video recorders, cell phone cameras, tape recorders, or scientific observers to verify the claim. Think about that, friends.

    Your “movement” has had 2,000 years to come up with every imaginable excuse and harmonization to explain why these alleged, ancient, supernatural events really did occur. But Hindus, Muslims, and Mormons can do the exact same thing for their supernatural claims. You may think that their excuses and harmonizations are nonsensical and easily falsifiable, but they think the same about yours!

    Bottom line, friends: Magic is not real.

    I strongly encourage you to do this:

    1. Allow for the possibility that your belief system is wrong.

    2. Read information that challenges your belief system.

    —I recommend the following websites: Bart Ehrman’s blog, Debunking Christianity, and The Secular Web.

    I am available for questions anytime. Please click on my name above to find my contact information.

  • Brian Salzano

    I don’t normally respond with a post, but I was impressed with how you articulated yourself on this topic. Obviously, biblical literalism is a more strict standard than inerrancy. I was relieved to find out that the early Christian fathers weren’t old testament literalists. It might sound strange but I read the bible somewhat like an encyclopedia a lot of times.



  • Johnni Kock Sørensen

    I couldn’t take this serious when you didn’t add any Bible verses… give me the verse where it says that the Bible is a pile of ****.

  • Jeremy Olson

    Great article and I agree. People often forget the Bible was written by MEN. Men living in ancient times, an ancient culture under cultural influences. God inspired them to write the scrolls of the bible but they are not all direct word-for-word from God. (Just look to the song of Solomon for that…unless you think it was God talking about how much he likes boobs?)

    We need to remember that inspiration and God directly writing it are two VERY different things.

  • Neekaloves

    I will come back and read this post in its entirety later. But I was so happy to see the title. My fellow Christians have made me feel like I’m Satan personified because of my doubt. My faith has been broken. I’ve been depressed because I feel alone and completely misunderstood. Just the title alone has helped me feel better. Thank you for posting

  • kinjirurm

    How does one use the Bible’s text to support the idea that the Bible’s text is unreliable as a definitive source? Seems like some very circular logic there. And if you’re going to cite the Bible to support this claim, then how do you ignore Pslalm 12:6, Psalm 19:7, and Proverbs 30:5?

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