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Fundamentally*, an inerrant Bible is one without errors and an infallible Bible is one that cannot have errors, as David Stratton pointed out in his answer. As for the Roman Catholic Church, all of its doctrines are infallible, so presumably, they believe the Bible is infallible as well.

My question is: when and why was inerrancy/infallibility formally declared? I'm looking for any combination of these four sources:

  1. an Old Testament text declares itself or another OT text to be inerrant/infallible,

  2. a New Testament text declares itself or another NT text to be inerrant/infallible,

  3. one or more early church authors declare some OT/NT text to be inerrant/infallible, or

  4. the closed canon (with or without the Deuterocanon) is declared inerrant/infallible by the Church, before or after the Great Schism.

I'm most interested in writings from the early church fathers, and 2 Timothy 3:16 is allowed in the answer only if the link between "God-breathed" and "infallible"/"inerrant" is shown in a clear and direct way. Also, declarations of inerrancy/infallibility should apply to the whole text, not just God's directly-spoken words.

*Stealthy or lame, take your pick.

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I think Inerrant is the only word you need to describe sacred scripture. Since public revelation is over and done with, it doesn't need to be infallible going forward. –  Peter Turner Apr 15 '13 at 2:14
@PeterTurner: Technically, yes, but I threw "infallible" in there anyway. :P Also, technically, an OT text declaring infallibility would have an effect on the later NT, would it not? –  El'endia Starman Apr 15 '13 at 3:03

1 Answer 1

Here's some verses on infallibility:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Isaiah 55:10-11
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21

The latter is worth citing here:

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit

Lest the reader shout circularity, the train of thought here is as follows:

  1. Let us assume/trust the general historicity of Scripture (all we need to assume is also corroborated by seconday/tertiary accounts)
  2. Then we know Peter is an apostle of Jesus, invested with great authority from him (able to call Paul's writings Scripture, 2 Peter 3:16)
  3. So when Peter declares the infallibility of Scripture, which his readers would have understood to be all of the OT as well as Paul's writings, he is, right then and there, formally declaring that the Word of God through these writings is infallible.

To get back to your question, I can't recall a specific OT passage declaring its own infallibility, but there are plenty of passages that emphasize that God spoke directly to the writers of these books (Prophets basically just transcribed his words, for example) and I think that speaks for itself.

I've got to run but I'll examine more closely 2 Tim. 3:16 when I return and I'll also dig into my church history books. I know I've failed to meet some of your more strict answer requirements so I'll try to clean that up as well. In the meantime, feel free to edit this, folks.

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Doubting Thomas! You're back! :D Looking forward to the fuller answer! :) –  El'endia Starman Apr 14 '13 at 20:37
Yo! Headed to evening service but I'll hit it when I'm back! :) –  Thomas Shields Apr 14 '13 at 21:39
Ps.119 (e.g., vv. 86 ["trustworthy"], 89 ["eternal" cf. 1 Cor. 13:10], 96 [beyond other perfections], 138 ["fully trustworthy"], 151 ["all ... true"]) indicates that the Law was considered perfect (though some might argue poetic hyperbole). –  Paul A. Clayton Apr 14 '13 at 21:40
@PaulA.Clayton feel free to edit that into the answer or post your own! –  Thomas Shields Apr 15 '13 at 0:47

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