Is the Bible inerrant? Is it without errors or misstatements in it’s moral and spiritual teachings and in its historical facts? Religion professor Geoffrey Smith of the University of Texas at Austin doesn’t think so, according to his July 20 opinion piece. Smith points out that those who believe the Bible is without error, like me, are in the minority now, based on the 2017 Gallup poll.
To dismiss the validity of the idea of Bible inerrancy, Smith posits two arguments, namely: (1) “The Bible itself does not claim to be inerrant.” and (2) “The doctrine of inerrancy is more post-biblical, even modern”, arising in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries as a means to argue against “emerging ‘liberal’ or nonliteral translations” or to argue “against gender equality, social justice, critical race theory and other causes thought to violate God’s infallible word.”
He also states that the only scripture coming close to claiming inerrancy is 2 Timothy 3:16, then proceeds to explain his view as to why it’s not an applicable verse to prove the Bible’s inerrancy. Is it true the concept of inerrancy is nowhere to be found in the Bible? I would argue that the concept is indeed in several places and that perhaps Smith hasn’t really studied enough to find those scriptures and/or has used the wrong Bible versions since they tend to erase such truths from their pages. The principle of inerrancy can be found in the following passages:
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23 :19 (The phrase “make it good” means to confirm, to prove, to establish. The Bible claims that when God speaks, he will eventually confirm his word, and since he will confirm it, there won’t be errors in what he says.)
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Isaiah 40:8 (God’s word through Isaiah is claiming inerrancy since it wouldn’t be able to stand if it were full of errors.)
…the scripture cannot be broken; John 10:35 (Jesus points out here that scripture, the Bible, cannot be done away with, deprived of its authority, or destroyed. If it were full of errors, it could be done away with.)
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17 (Jesus is claiming the inerrancy of scripture given the fact that if God’s word had errors, then Jesus wouldn’t have called it truth.)
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Hebrews 6:17-18 (The Bible is claiming here that God’s counsel and his words are “immutable”, meaning they are unalterable, unchangeable. Therefore, the Bible is claiming God’s word is inerrant since it claims it’s set.)
It seems to me that Geoffrey Smith’s arguments against Bible inerrancy don’t hold water. The idea of inerrancy is clearly in the scriptures and, thus, isn’t something that was made up in the 19th and 20th century as he says. So I’m drawn to the conclusion that Paul stated in Romans 3:4 when it comes down to comparing what God says and does to what man says and does– “…let God be true, but every man a liar.”
Source: Geoffrey Smith, What is biblical inerrancy? A New Testament scholar explains, Religion News Service, July 20, 2021.