For many years, inerrancy was a caustic focus of debate among evangelical Christians. Though scripture does not specifically use the word “inerrant,” many believers felt a loyalty to defend the
Bible, right down to every period and comma. I am certain this idea transpired from a society that was incessantly propagating, a relativistic moral view and watering down the absolutes in holy writ.
As a biblical studies professor in the New Testament, I know that we do not possess the original copies of the canonical New Testament. The original paper that Paul wrote his letters on is not with us today. The earliest copies we have are from the second and third centuries A.D. In those first centuries after Christ, as serious people meticulously copied the words that the church identified as the New Testament, we recognize that the NT documents we read are very similar to the original documents.
The Greek language of the New Testament authors did not have the grammar structure we understand—such as periods, commas, small and capital letters. Yet, the bottom-line teaching espoused by the NT authors is that Jesus died and rose again, for this world. That is why I can say with certainty that “the Bible is inerrant in all it intends to teach!” At times, the placing of grammar in Bible translation is subjective, and if one is searching for inerrancy in this area, please give up. It is not possible. Yes, the Bible is inerrant, but not in the sense many claim.
Harold Lindsell was best known for his book The Battle for the Bible argues for the inerrancy of the Bible. His writing combats the moral relativism that invaded our American culture and churches. However, Lindsell overstates the case for inerrancy, especially as he attempts to harmonize portions of the gospels of Christ. For example, he writes that
“Peter receives two different warnings about denying Jesus and in each warning, he was to deny Jesus three times.” – Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1976), 175.
In his earnest desire to synchronize the four gospels descriptions of Peter’s denials, he strangely arrives at six denials by the disciple.
This bizarre blending makes evangelical and conservative theologians look silly. The NT authors did not have cell phones, video or tape players to record the sayings of Jesus so that we could parse the Lord’s words. However, we do know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that is what matters. Every Bible clearly states this fact!
At BLI, we will critically and prayerfully study (2 Tim 2:15) God’s word in its social context and then, apply the principles of scripture to our Christian lives. That is what I mean when I say we will read the Bible in both a devotional and scholarly manner. Reportedly, an inquisitive person, after noticing Karl Barth works, Church Dogmatics, on a shelf of books, asked the neo-orthodox theologian,
“Dr. Barth, how would you sum up everything that you have written?”
Barth replied, “If I could sum up everything, I have written it would be this…Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”
– Roger E. Olson, “Did Karl Barth Really Say “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know….?”, Patheos (blog), January 24, 2013,
Undoubtedly, we can accept the meaning of the words from this profound, yet simple song from our earliest days in Sunday School to indicate that “the Bible is inerrant in all it intended to teach.”