A Very Brief Defense of the Inerrancy of the Bible
Liberal Protestant Christianity questioned whether the Bible was wholly inspired by God and incapable of error (or inerrant), as traditionally affirmed, on the basis of some seeming contradictions between the Bible and science or history. Some late 19th Century Catholic “modernist” scholars took up these Liberal Protestant objections to the Bible’s inerrancy and so Biblical inerrancy was soundly reaffirmed for all Catholic Christians by Pope Leo XIII in 1893. A helpful ancient Christian principle is that Scripture is without error in all it intentionally affirms. Some critics of the Bible accuse the Bible of making errors in science. Though Scripture may occasionally incidentally use “scientific” terms common to the period in which it was written which were necessary for the original readers’ comprehension, in such cases the Scripture, a religious text, no more intends to affirm a scientific truth than a newspaper which declares what time the sunrise will be intends to affirm that the sun moves around the Earth and is therefore said to “rise.” The pre-Copernican terms of sunrise and sunset remain in common usage because they usefully describe the appearance of things relative to our Earth-bound position, even though they do not describe the now well-known scientific reality that the Earth moves around the sun and the sun is technically not “rising” at all. Making use of common terms is not an error. Other seeming problems with the Bible’s inerrancy disappear once one recognizes the literary form or genre a particular Bible passage was written in, and in very many instances, later historical or archeological finds have proven the Bible historically accurate in places where critics had previously accused the Bible of being historically inaccurate.
© 2004 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO