I think this objection is one of the principal stumbling blocks for the skeptic and the Christian alike. Before we get into how to respond to this objection, I would like to discuss the importance of proper doctrinal arrangement in the Christian’s life. A misplacement of the Bible’s role in our belief system can present weaknesses that could potentially destroy the foundation on which we stand.
The doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is at the very core of many Christians’ belief-system; but how central should this doctrine be? We can better understand the role this doctrine plays in our life by understanding why we believe the Bible is without error. Unless you have searched the entire Bible from cover to cover looking for errors, chances are you don’t believe in biblical inerrancy because you have looked and found no mistakes to complain about. Many people point to fulfilled prophecies in the Bible as justification for its inerrancy. But at most, those passages would move to show that only the parts of the Bible that contain the fulfilled prophecy are the inerrant word of God.
It seems the reason for the belief in complete biblical inerrancy should come from the affirmation of Jesus Christ to the truth of the passages. Jesus refers to the scriptures as the word of God and being that which is “unbreakable”. Because our trust is ultimately in the person and work of Christ, we can trust his assertions about the strength of the scripture. What does this mean for the placement of this doctrine in our lives?
Viewing the biblical texts as purely historical documents, we have remarkable evidence for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This, coupled with our immediate experience of Christ in our lives, constitutes our faith in Him. The belief that the biblical texts are “without error” comes secondary to our faith in Christ. This means that biblical inerrancy is not a part of the essential foundation of our Christian faith. That is not to say this is not an important doctrine for us to hold to, but it is to say that this doctrine should be kept in the peripheral of our belief system. If we felt compelled by some evidence to give up the belief in biblical inerrancy, it should not result in the complete destruction of our faith. Think about it, if you were to grant the point “the Bible has errors in it”, what would follow from that? Would it mean that God doesn’t exist, that Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead or that the Bible is not even reliable? Certainly not. All that would follow is that the Bible is not the inerrant word of God.
When attempting to discuss the Bible with a skeptic, it seems the best way to go about it is to treat the text as purely historical documents. There is no point in trying to argue for the Bible’s total inerrancy with an unbeliever seeing as this belief is ultimately based in response to the affirmations of Jesus. Unless the skeptic is willing to put his trust in the person of Jesus, he will not accept inerrancy. This is an important point to understand. Disputes about different biblical passages and seeming inconsistencies can actually keep people from coming to Christ. Our goal is to point the skeptic in the direction of the cross. There is no need for someone to believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word before they place their faith in Jesus. If we set up doctrinal obstacles to try and force the skeptic to maneuver through before they can become a Christian, we make reaching that cross all the more difficult.
- We believe in the authority of scripture because Jesus affirmed this to be true.
- Believing the Bible is inerrant is not a foundational belief of Christianity and should not be the “end all be all” of our faith.
- Arguments over biblical inerrancy with non-believers are unneccessary and can even be damaging to their response towards Christ.