“Inerrancy” is a word you may not actually hear spoken all that often in evangelical churches. But make no mistake: the belief that scripture is and must be without error underpins an awful lot of evangelical theology and lies not far beneath the surface in many churches.
While there’s no universal agreement on precisely what is meant by biblical inerrancy, there is at least one documented explanation in the form of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Since my purpose here is not to examine the whole notion of inerrancy, I won’t bother to reproduce the whole thing (if you’re interested, you can read it here). But I would like to quote the statement’s final two points:
4. 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.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
In case you find their wording obscure, allow me to translate these two points into simple language: the Bible contains absolutely nothing that is mistaken; and either the whole Bible is absolutely true, or none of it is at all reliable. That’s right, folks: it’s an all or nothing deal.
I used to believe in the inerrancy of scripture, but I don’t any more. For me, it’s really important not to. The reason? Well, to put it bluntly, I think you can believe either in the inerrancy of scripture or in the God fully revealed by Jesus, but not both.
Let me try to explain.