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I read an article the other day about the PCUSA church, and I will preface this question with the disclaimer that I have not done extensive research on the church, but it said that they hold the Bible to be doctrine and teach from it, but do not believe that it is without error. The article was written in response to the PCUSA changing their definition of marriage from "between a man and a woman" to "between two people", essentially supporting gay marriage.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

If the Bible itself says that ALL scripture is God breathed, how can one believe this is not true (by saying it is not inerrant) and yet still hold it to be doctrine?

I guess I'm just curious as to the logic behind teaching from the bible which explicitly says something is wrong, but then supporting it? The Bible doesn't really seem to me like something you get to pick and choose what of it you want to believe.

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also related: christianity.stackexchange.com/q/1225/69 –  warren Jun 28 at 4:07

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If you hold from the outset that the Bible can contain errors, then it would obviously be easy to say that the passage in the Bible that says otherwise (2 Timothy 3:16-17) is itself in error. So I suppose that's the answer. Inerrancy is not a doctrine you can derive from the Bible if you don't already believe in inerrancy, since you will simply dismiss 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as wishful thinking if you aren't already convinced of the doctrine of inerrancy. Why do people who don't believe in the Bible not all of the sudden change their minds when 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is read to them? Because they don't believe in the Bible, so why would a quotation from the Bible convince them?

But when you're dealing with a church that doesn't believe in inerrancy, its more than with some atheist. They need the Bible to legitimate themselves, but they don't want to accept certain things it says. Its just like politicians who wrap themselves behind the Constitution, or more particularly the Bill of Rights, while at the same time trying to take away some of the rights guaranteed there. When you need a document to legitimate your business enterprise, you use as much of it as you want, to your profit, and reject as much of it as you don't want.

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Translations of the Bible I'm familiar with quote 2 Timothy 3:16 as saying all Scripture was "inspired" of God, not "breathed out". That God might have "breathed" Scripture into the world renders the phrase far more authoritative than an awareness of metaphor might support, and might well reveal certain prejudices held by the translating organization. Further, if "inspired" is the word that pushes one's hot button (in prayerful preference to "breathed"), and if one accorded it the same authority as God's actual breath, one would also need to assume that inspiration was always and ever received perfectly. I do not believe that any of the imperfect vessels God inspired to write on His behalf was infallible such that this was likely to be the case. Thus I have no difficulty in tempering the harsher dictates of Leviticus (and other books) with the recorded words of Jesus. They stress love and acceptance the last time I looked. Maybe the truth is that Scripture does all the things for us that Timothy claims - not from the viewpoint of unthinking automatons, but from a viewpoint that says God's word is constantly revealing itself and requires honouring in ongoing attention and contemplation. This would seem to me to be the best purpose of any Christian community rather than bouncing heavy copies of the bible off their neighbours' heads.

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A language study of the original text will tell you where the "God-Breathed" comes from. "Inspired" is a very poor choice in today's English. Perhaps you should take a look at this post –  David Stratton Jun 30 at 2:54
While I'm at it.. Welcome to the site! This next is just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites?, and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Jun 30 at 2:55

I've not yet a single Christian individual who followed each and every teaching from the Bible without exception. Doing so, would prevent a person from wearing most garments manufactured today, as Leviticus 19:19 would prohibit all fabrics maded from fabric blends (e.g., "cotton-polyester"). I've known several male persons, who, though they claim to believe and follow the whole bible, are in clear violation of Leviticus 19:27-28 (You shall not round off the hair on your temples, nor mar the edges of your beard. You shall not ... tattoo any marks upon you.), not to mention Leviticus 7:22-23 ("You shall eat no fat").

The point here is that there are few (if any) who adhere to all of God's laws, but most instead pick and choose what laws they are going to adhere to, and which they will find a reason to ignore. Further, I don't know anyone who claims to be Christian, and supports the death penalty, who insists on following Jesus teaching with respect to that punishment (there must be one without sin to initiate the execution).

Anyone who ignores some parts of what is taught in the Bible, yet criticizes others who ignore other parts of what is taught seems to me to have forgotten Jesus' teaching about foreign objects and eyes.

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There's a flaw in the logic here and your points don't address the question. The question isn't "Do people obey the Bible", it's "Is the Bible infallible or not?" –  David Stratton Jun 28 at 14:53
... According to the PCUSA. (forgot that part of the question) –  David Stratton Jun 28 at 15:23
This is a nice paraphrase of one of Obama's speeches attacking the Bible and Christianity, but its not a good answer to the question. The reason Christians don't follow the OT laws about not mixing wool and linen, and so on, is because the NT teaches we don't have to, not because we are denying inerrancy. Epic fail for the liberal agenda. –  david brainerd Jun 30 at 1:38

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