When talking with those who are skeptical about Christ and the life He lived, often people will say, “The Bible has errors. So, because there are mistakes, I can’t believe the things you are saying about Christ.”
It can be very frustrating trying to defend the scriptures to an someone person who has just enough information to be dangerous.
As Christians, we must work to understand inerrancy enough to be able to calm their fears.
The idea of inerrancy can be broken into five major points.
1) Inerrancy allows for variations in style.
Skeptic: “If God wrote the Bible, why does every book sound so different?”
Answer: the Bible is Theopneustos or God-breathed. He influenced the writers to use their education, knowledge, understanding, and background to write His words.
An uneducated fisherman like Peter would not write like a doctor named Luke or a highly educated Pharisee (religious elite of the day) such as Paul.
2) Inerrancy allows for vary in details.
Skeptic: “Why are the details different in the Gospels?
Answer: Each of the Gospel writers were eye-witnesses (or interviewed and learned from eye-witnesses) and thus there were views of every scene from different standpoints.
In a court of law, this tells the hearers that there was no pre-trial collusion. Also, Jesus spoke in Aramaic, and the writers wrote in Hebrew or Greek. One writer could use different terms or phrasing to describe an event.
clearly, each writer told the story from his vantage point, and minor (non-doctrinal) differences naturally occur.
3) Inerrancy does not demand verbatim quotes or reports.
Skeptic: “This New Testament writer misquoted the Old Testament scripture.”
Answer: How many of us have quoted the intent of someone’s words without using a verbatim quote? Not only that, but often they were mentally translating the scripture from the language memorized in (Hebrew) to the one they were writing in (Greek).
Truly, it’s only because of the excellence in oral tradition passed on through Jewish heritage that the New Testament writers were as close as they always were to citing the Old Testament.
4) Inerrancy allows for a departure from standard forms of grammar.
I know of few skeptics who even pose this question. Still, it’s been brought up by those who know little of ancient writing as compared with the writing standards of today.
To hold first century writers to 21st century English grammar and syntax is unnecessary. Remember, God used the people and their abilities to write His story in the manner and language of the time. Yes, they were limited by their education. But, this writer sees this as God’s hand in showing us that He can use each of us – with all our limitations – to get His point across to the world.
5) Inerrancy allows for problem passages.
How many times has archaeology proven the Bible correct after centuries of criticism?
Of course, there are always those who find something not yet made clear. Many times the problem passages are due to the person reading from the English and not the original language. Original text has a way of making the meaning clear as it did to those who read it first.
Sometimes, a word could have been better translated into English (or whatever language you read from).
Needless to say, the next time you discuss the Bible with someone, and they bring up problem passages – remember these five points.
Always help other to understand the accuracy of God’s Word.