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My question comes in two parts, the second being a direct result of the first.

Is the Bible infallible?

I have often heard that it is, but the most conclusive proof that I have heard essentially states that, since it is inerrant, it must be infallible. This makes no sense as it is inerrancy is necessary due to infallibility, not the other way around.

When bringing into question the infallibility of The Bible. I am not asking about The Canon, or the books selected, but rather the actual content of scripture.

If The Bible is not infallible, then on what grounds do we say it is inerrant?

Assuming that The Bible cannot be proven infallible, can we at least say it is inerrant? The Bible certainly is proven legitimate with historical evidence and its teachings are proven true in practice. This points to the conclusion that it is inerrant, but does it conclusively and certainly prove its inerrancy? Is there any way to show that, without a doubt, The Bible is inerrant?

EDIT:

To clarify what I’m asking further, I am defining

  • Infallible: Without ability to err
  • Inerrant: Without error
  • The Bible: The actual, original content of widely accepted Scripture and its meaning

My first question can also be examined as a question of Divine Inspiration. Is every word a product of God’s Will?

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  • Welcome to Christianity.SE! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I would also recommend reading the Help Center's sections on asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Jan 17 at 5:15
  • You will need to define Bible. There are many and all suffer to varying degrees from incorrect translation and biased inclusions. Are you referring to these Bibles?
    – steveowen
    Jan 17 at 5:49
  • Christians who teach the inerrancy of the Bible also teach the infallibility of the Bible, as far as I know. Some Christians reject inerrancy but still affirm infallibility. But I've never heard of Christians who affirm inerrancy but reject infallibility. But all of them affirm the divine inspiration of the Bible! So I can't really see who this question is directed towards. Please edit to clarify.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 17 at 13:19
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    Does this answer your question? What is the difference between "infallible" and "inerrant"?
    – Anne
    Jan 17 at 16:03
  • @curiousdannii This is a Theological question. I’m not sure of any Christians who affirm inerrancy but reject infallibility either, and I’m questioning that dogma, as well as Divine Inspiration. Jan 17 at 16:22

2 Answers 2

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"Is there any way to show that, without a doubt, The Bible is inerrant?"

I think the answer depends entirely upon whom is being shown. There are a great many people in this world who, despite much evidence and information to the contrary, refuse to believe that any type of being approximating the Christian God exists. These people, by default, must doubt the Bible's inerrancy.

I suggest that such individuals cannot be shown, without a doubt, that the Bible is inerrant; not because they cannot believe (for lack of evidence) but because they will not believe.

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Is the Bible infallible?

Yes, but we must qualify this extensively to be understood correctly.

Which Bible?

You see the problem here.

To which I would answer, No, not as it currently stands. You say, "the original":

I am not asking about The Canon, or the books selected, but rather the actual content of scripture.

Scripture means "that which is written". Since none of the original manuscripts of the Bible have been found, it would be impossible to prove textually or forensically that the text did not read differently from the originals.

If The Bible is not infallible, then on what grounds do we say it is inerrant?

None.

Assuming that The Bible cannot be proven infallible, can we at least say it is inerrant? The Bible certainly is proven legitimate with historical evidence and its teachings are proven true in practice. This points to the conclusion that it is inerrant, but does it conclusively and certainly prove its inerrancy? Is there any way to show that, without a doubt, The Bible is inerrant?

No, so long as our view of what the Bible is, is entangled with a pejorated text.

The events of the Bible are real and true, and the doctrine of Jesus Christ taught in the Bible is true, but its modern editions contain errors. A common illustration of this is in Numbers 23:19, which says,

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent

This is in contrast to other passages such as Exodus 32:14, which (in current texts and translations) erroneously state that God can repent. Either the translation is incorrect or the texts have been tampered with.

As far as the scope of errancy, we could ask, Am I forced to believe that an ignorant translator's rendition, or an unordained professor's interpretation, is the infallible word of God? Hardly. But am I persuaded that the original authors were indeed inspired and called by God, and that what they spoke must surely come to pass? Certainly and thoroughly.

All original holy Scripture is without doctrinal errors. So yes, the Bible as it was originally delivered through inspired and holy men is inerrant. The problem is most people don't agree on what that was or is. Does that include missing passages and books? We know there were quite a few--but I take your question to preclude such matters.

Every original word written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost was indeed Holy Scripture. But we do not have the original words in their entirety.

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  • As I pointed out in OP, I am looking for something beyond stating The Bible’s infallibility due to inerrancy, as that makes no real argument. Jan 17 at 23:11
  • @TheCosmicAspect That is not my argument. I simply state that what is Holy Scripture cannot deceive, while the mere fact of something being written does not make it inerrant. It is therefore in the observation that something was communicated by a Divine messenger that would make it inerrant. Is the fact that God cannot lie sufficient, or are you looking for something else?
    – pygosceles
    Jan 17 at 23:32
  • Numbers and Exodus aren't necessarily at odds. The Hebrew word under "repent" has a broad range of meaning, a main one being: To be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion. Certainly God may have compassion and yet not change his mind as a man does. Jan 18 at 21:39
  • @MikeBorden I agree that the original verses in their meaning are not at odds. Hence it is a mistranslation as currently rendered in the English.
    – pygosceles
    Jan 19 at 4:14

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