I believe that scripture is the Holy Spirit inspired revelation that God has given to mankind of Himself and His purposes. But inerrant? What does that actually mean?
Inerrant is a theological word for which no one has ever been able to give me a convincing definition. The only person I’ve seen try said it means “authoritative”. I agree scripture is authoritative but I suspect the word “inerrant” means much more.
To me it seems to suggest “error free” – but THAT brings up a whole set of problems when different gospels give details of chronology that are sometimes contradictory. So which one is the “true”, error-free chronological account?
I’d say all are the truth – but none are necessarily “error-free” in their chronology. They are eyewitness accounts of what they heard and saw Jesus say and do – and as such display the characteristics of GENUINE eyewitness accounts affected by the perception and memory of the witness. To me that is evidence to their authenticity – if the accounts had been in 100% agreement it would have suggested the writers colluded to “get their story straight” before writing it down.
The usual claim about inerrancy is that scripture is “inerrant” in the original manuscripts. I suppose this proviso needed to be added when more and more translations were produced that had some differences from other translations – suggesting that translation has diluted the “inerrancy”.
The original manuscript claim has two main problems that I see:
1) We no longer have access to those originals so the claim can only be an assumption. No one in thousands of years has seen the “original manuscripts” to put them to the test. (And how would we test them anyway?)
2) Even if the original manuscripts can be accepted as “inerrant” we don’t have them to reference, so their inerrancy is of no use – we only have the later manuscripts that by inference are not as “inerrant” as the originals.
So what DOES inerrant mean and is the significance?
Are the “inerrancy” claims true? How does our understanding of “inerrancy” affect the way we read and understand scripture? How do Biblical inerrancy claims affect the way OTHERS (non-believers) perceive the Bible and the revelation given through sit? For example – when clear differences in accounts can be seen (as per gospels) doesn’t that provide them “ammunition” to discount other parts?
So who actually “wrote” scripture?
I don’t see scripture as being God’s “autobiography” where God is the writer through the use of human scribes. I see scripture more like an “authorised biography”, where men have been commissioned to write God’s “story” with God having final editorial control over the completed text.