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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Answering Bible Difficulties

Don Stewart :: Since the Term Inerrancy Means “Scientific Precision,” Does the Bible Really Teach Inerrancy?

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Question 20

Since the Term Inerrancy Means “Scientific Precision,” Does the Bible Really Teach Inerrancy?

Critics of the doctrine of inerrancy say the term is a poor description of what the Bible says about itself. Since the word “inerrancy” means something that is absolutely scientifically precise, the term does not accurately reflect the teaching of Scripture.

Because the Bible speaks in non-scientific language and often rounds off its numbers, it cannot be inerrant in that sense of the term. Why say the Scriptures are inerrant when the Bible does not? Claiming the Bible is inerrant says more than the Bible itself. It actually adds something to Scripture that is not there.

The response to this argument is as follows:

Inerrancy Has Been Clearly Defined: It Does Not Mean Scientific Precision

Bible students have used the term, “inerrancy” to describe the nature of Scripture for about one hundred years. In that time, the doctrine has been clearly defined as well as qualified. When the term has been used to refer to Scripture, it has never been defined in this strict scientific sense.

While inerrancy can mean strict scientific precision in some contexts, it does not follow that it cannot have limitations in meaning in other contexts. Therefore, the argument that “inerrancy” is a poor term with respect to what the Bible teaches about itself does not have much weight.

Inerrancy May Not Be the Best Term Available

Inerrancy may not be the best term available. However, it has been in use for one hundred years and will remain in use for years to come. The real issue is not of the definition of this particular term. The real issue is, “Does the Bible always speak the truth?” The term, or terms, that we use about the Bible describing itself is not the main issue.

It is proper for people to use other terms in describing the nature of Scripture. These terms include the following: absolutely trustworthy, infallible, truth without any error, and completely accurate.

The Bible Does Teach Inerrancy

While the Bible does not use the word inerrancy in describing itself, the teaching of inerrancy is contained within Scripture. The Scripture claims to be the Word of God, and the Word of God is always true. The logical conclusion to this is that the Bible is without error. Otherwise, one would have to argue that parts of the Scripture are God-inspired error! This would be nonsense.

It Is Keeping with God’s Character

Inerrancy is in keeping with the perfect character of God. The Bible says that God is true. Paul wrote to the Romans:

What if some were unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Although everyone is a liar, let God be proved true. (Romans 3:3-4 NRSV)

If the entire Scripture has God’s character and authority behind it, then the Bible, being the product of God’s revelation of Himself, must also be true in everything that it says. The psalmist wrote:

The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever. (Psalm 119:160 NRSV)

Since the totality of God’s Word is truth, we assume that it is without error.

Many Central Teachings of Scripture Involve Actual Historical Events That Must Have Happened

The Bible deals with the way God has acted in history. Many of the great teachings of Scripture are based upon historical events. These include such as the virgin birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, the truth of these events cannot be overlooked. They must have happened exactly as the Bible says that they happened.

Summary - Question 20
Since the Term Inerrancy Means Exact Scientific Precision, Does the Bible Really Teach Inerrancy?

The word, “inerrancy” is not found in Scripture. No one denies this. This has caused some to discard the doctrine. They allege that it is not biblical. It is further argued that people are adding to Scripture by claiming it to be inerrant. Why defend something that the Bible does not teach?

Furthermore the word inerrancy has the idea of exact scientific precision. The Bible does not teach that about itself, therefore, the term should be abandoned.

However, no responsible Bible teacher, who has defined inerrancy with respect to what the Scripture says, has argued for exact scientific precision. Inerrancy, when referring to the Bible, is defined as a work that does not contain errors of any sort—whether it be theological, historical, or scientific. Nothing is claimed with respect to scientific precision. Therefore, the term is consistent with this definition.

While the word inerrancy is nowhere found in Scripture, the idea is certainly there. The fact that God is perfect, and that the Bible comes from this perfect God makes the belief in inerrancy a logical conclusion. Otherwise, one would have to argue that the Bible contains God-inspired errors. This idea is contradictory to the very nature of God.

Did Paul Make a Distinction Between His Words and the Lord’s Words? (1 Corinthians 7:12) ← Prior Section
Are There Grammatical Errors in Scripture? Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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