Saturday, 11 January 2014

Ten reasons why the Bible is not inerrant

There's a lot of nonsense taught and believed about the Bible. John Petty has a nice article up on his blog entitled Top Ten Reasons Inerrancy Makes No Sense. Relevant to recent events reported here, these are John's concluding comments.
[O]ne of the biggest problems with inerrancy is that it gives too much support to hierarchical authority. The Bible is a complex book. Sometimes it seems contradictory. Sometimes it seems abstruse and esoteric. Sometimes it seems conflicted. Fundamentalist interpreters claim to understand it all, which gives the interpreters themselves an aura of inerrancy.
They are not.
John is a Lutheran pastor, so he isn't indulging in some kind of anti-Christian bluster, just making us all do some necessary thinking. It's a well written, well reasoned piece dealing with an issue that every "Bible believer" needs to come to grips with. If you find it helpful, pass on the link.


  1. An interesting article, with very valid points. However, it begs the question: if the Bible is not inerrant, and you are a believer, how do you decide which parts of the Bible are to be relied upon? What is true, what is not true, what is partly true? If all parts of the Bible are subject to question, must one look for additional (extra-biblical) support to prove a point? Are any parts of Bible "truths from God", or is it just interesting ancient literature?

    Yes, this is the old "slippery slope" argument. Old but valid. The gospels and Acts are the only books that claims to be a contemporary source of information about Jesus Christ. They were written by who-knows-who 50+ years after Jesus' alleged life and deeds. They clearly copied from each other and from the Septuagint without attribution. They are not supported by any outside sources, they contradict each other and themselves, and some of the places, time lines and travels are plainly absurd. Yet Christians base their beliefs upon cherry-picked texts from these books.

    Am I missing something here?

    1. Yes, you're missing something. We rely on the whole thing, just not as a modern representation of science or history. Books written in the worldview of an ancient person while expressing universal truths. Each individual book is written for a specific purpose, the language and genre chosen to express that purpose.

    2. Chris, you assume much. You assume these books express "universal truths"; however whatever "truths" may be there are mixed in with obvious falsehoods. You further assume "Each individual book is written for a specific purpose, the language and genre chosen to express that purpose", but how can that be when the books have multiple authors and were heavily edited and revised over periods of centuries?

    3. Skeptic, you write that "Christians base their beliefs upon cherry-picked texts from these books"

      That's not correct. For most of history, lay Christians could not read and did not have a printed Bible so the precepts of Christian faith have necessarily relied upon interpretation by clergy from the beginning. The traditional creeds and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ summarise the central tenets of the christian belief. This modern habit of "cherry picking random texts" may be OK for personal devotions but isn't the way that Bible scholars conduct themselves.

  2. It's just like Mrs Humphrey Ward said in Robert Elsmore! '"If the Gospels are not true in fact, as history, I cannot see how they are true at all, or of any value."

    Yet, of course, when one has a personal investment in a belief, challenges to that belief are often treated less as factors which reduce the belief's possibility than as obstacles to be overcome by any tendentious means and which thereby bolster that belief.

    Humans can be so silly!

  3. I'm glad I'm not a bible-believer and have to work out the "specific purpose" of each book written as ancient culture control...uh, wait... Heck, I never could figure out those "universal truths" which are presumed and assumed to be there...somewhere. At one time it was "an abomination" to eat pork but now it's, it seems universal truths change over time. Well, that is, they do if they are not cherry-picked.