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For those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible (or those who understand the positions of those who do), how can the Bible have this status given all the opportunities for any message delivered by God to be corrupted by human failings?

In particular, humans have free will and thus fell; but a being with free will may choose to convey a different message than one they have been given, and even without such will, imperfect beings make mistakes. Did God suspend the exercise of free will and ability to err (at least without catching it later) of those who wrote the Bible and those who transcribed it?

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2 Answers 2

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By the mechanism of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit - that is the supernatural power of God. The human authors of the Bible wrote under the direct inspiration of the Spirit, writing exactly and precisely what God wanted them to write in their native language. They willed to submit to God and his will was done, so neither the author's will nor God's was violated.

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What was the point of doing that if we were allowed to create so many bad translations (e.g. some translations of Deuteronomy 22) and to confuse and disagree with so many details? To me this is like God produced an HD, 3D video of THE TRUTH and then released it to 1st generation Youtube quality. If he really wanted to send an inerrant message then why put it out into such a low fidelity, poorly transmitted medium? –  zipquincy Apr 23 '12 at 20:22
I don't think this answer meets the more recent requirements for this site, of being well-sourced. Can you add some sources? As it's written, it sounds like personal opinion (not to say your opinion is wrong). –  Flimzy Jul 19 '13 at 22:59

I think a full answer to your question requires clarifying a few main points.

  1. In what sense is the Bible inerrant?

    Some say that literally every word in the Bible was dictated by God to man. This in itself implies the mechanism by which God made the Bible inerrant. However, I don't necessarily hold this view.

    To me, it is much more accurate to use the term infallible rather than inerrant. The distinction, according to wikipedia is:

    Those who subscribe to infallibility believe that what the scriptures say regarding matters of faith and Christian practice are wholly useful and true. Some denominations that teach infallibility hold that the historical or scientific details, which may be irrelevant to matters of faith and Christian practice, may contain errors.

  2. What are the implications of infallibility on the Authors of the Bible?

    Free will, and the fact that men are fallible, does not mean that all men fail all the time. There are many writings by many Biblical authors that are not included in the Bible as we know it today.

    A fallible author can still write good (accurate/infallible) texts on occasion.

  3. What are the implications of infallibility on the process of compiling the Bible?

    (This process is further addressed in this question and this one).

    Even if the original authors of the Bible wrote works that contained errors, it is possible these works were weeded out in the compilation of scripture.

For any work of significant size to be completely infallible or inerrant, something supernatural must occur, and Christians believe God played a significant part. At minimum, God would have had to have been involved in the compilation phase, to weed out fallible documents. Although I think most Christians believe He was also involved in the writing phase.

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So, are you saying that there are documents written by some of the authors of the Bible that were not inspired by God and were, in fact, invalid and mistaken? I'm curious to know what documents they would be. (Obviously, the apocrypha comes to mind, but I thought they were written by authors that were not otherwise included in the Bible.) –  Richard Sep 26 '11 at 12:44
@Richard: I don't have any specific examples in mind, although we know that some Bible authors did write other works that are not included in the Bible. See here. I would also be surprised if Paul/Saul never wrote anything before becoming a Christian. He probably wrote orders to murder Christians, in fact--I doubt those were "God inspired". Also, I would be surprised if anyone who can write never made an error during the learning process. –  Flimzy Sep 26 '11 at 17:21
Huh.. Yeah, those are good points. I wonder how we can determine if something is inspired by God. (That's off-topic, though, and a different question altogether.) Thanks. :) –  Richard Sep 26 '11 at 17:32
Good background and perspective! I appreciate the answer, though I think S.M.'s more directly and (apparently) definitively answers the question and thus deserves to be the accepted answer. –  Rex Kerr Sep 30 '11 at 20:44
@Richard it is fairly clear that Paul wrote other letters that were not inspired, as they are mentioned in Scripture. –  Affable Geek Jan 11 '12 at 3:39

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