Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Inerrancy--Definitions and Qualifications

In examining the definition of inerrancy as published in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, it is important to consider certain important qualifiers to that statement.  As defined by that statement, inerrancy means “Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.” 
However, while this definition is adequate, it is important to remember certain key concepts.  First of all, all facts (scientific, historical, etc) are not yet known to the reader of scripture.  Also, while scripture is inerrant, our interpretation is not.  In addition, if someone makes a claim that scripture in fact contains errors, they must demonstrate that those errors they point out are errors and in doing so provide the correct interpretation. 
A reader must also remember that while we have near perfect copies of the autographs of scripture, we do not have the original autographs.  Likewise, a student of scripture must be able to distinguish between texts which are descriptive (describing an event) and normative (describing an even that should be considered normal or routine).  Finally, the reader must bear in mind that a claim of inerrancy does not include a claim of scientific precision, perfect spelling or grammar, historical or technical precision, exhaustive comprehensiveness, exclusion of figures of speech (i.e. poetry), exact quotation, or infallible sources. 
The need to bear these facts in mind is important in any discussion of inerrancy since, while the Bible claims to be inerrant, the Bible does not assert any claims of mechanical, scientific, or historical exactitude as would be expected of a modern writer.

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