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Opening Argument - Paul Meyer

The inerrancy of Scripture is the belief that there are no errors or contradictions in the original autographs of the Bible. The belief is based on numerous statements within the Bible, including 2 Timothy 3.16,17 and 2 Peter 1.20,21. These and other verses claim and imply that the original writings of the Bible are inspired (the word in Greek is, ‘god-breathed’ in 2 Timothy) by God. The inference is easily made then that there should be no errors in the original writings. Modern arrogance and prejudice has denounced this belief, not with reasoned scholarship, but with slander, misrepresentation and name-calling. A belief in inerrancy does not mean that all the Bible is clear or that the Bible speaks comprehensively on any issue (the statement of 2 Timothy 3.16,17 is that the Bible’s contents are ‘sufficient’ for the reader to be adequately able to perform every good work). The belief in inerrancy also does not mean that the Bible is required to use other than popular and culturally acceptable language in its text.

The inerrancy of Scripture is reasonable, and it sets the Bible apart from all other religious and secular works of ancient history. This is demonstrated when the Bible’s historical content is compared to other ancient works. For instance, the Old Testament lists 29 kings, from ten different countries using 195 consonants (the original Hebrew was a consonantal text only). Of these 195 consonants there is only two or three that are in the least bit questionable as to their accuracy, because these same names of kings are found written exactly the same on various monuments and other artifacts of archeology. When one compares this to the work of the librarian at Alexandria, Egypt (in 200 B.C. he compiled a list of 38 kings of Egypt), there are only three or four kings that are even recognizable, and those are spelt differently. The same outstanding accuracy occurs in the history of the New Testament, such that the renowned archeologist, William F. Albright, wrote that the biblical account is so accurate that Near Eastern history and archeology find, ‘ that there is nothing against the tradition-- except prejudice.’ (From the Stone Age to Christianity by W. F. Albright, page 400).

Inerrancy means that the various forms of writing in the Bible’s 66 books, including poetry, narrative, prophecy and epistle, present a consistent error free communication from God. This means that when the Bible speaks to an issue (whether science, geography or history) that the Bible gives accurate information on that issue. Every and any part of the Bible is to be taken in the sense as any other literature of the type under consideration. For instance, one should not attempt to read scientific information into poetic portions of the Bible. The author may speak of filling his bed with tears, an obvious impossibility, but the point is that the author is speaking of grieving with severity (by means of hyperbole), and not trying to establish a scientific fact.

The claim of inerrancy should be readily dispatched by critics if not true, because the Bible unlike much religious literature does directly state specific geographical and historical information which can be tested. Occasionally, the Bible even speaks to scientific issues, and having been written (in some cases) millennia ago should also be dispatched easily, if not true. The burden of proof is upon the accuser. If one claims there are errors in the Bible, conclusive proof is required. Clear and irreconcilable contradiction or error must be shown in order to demonstrate error in the Scriptures. Even a plausible explanation of an alleged contradiction makes the claim of error invalid. This is simply asking that the reliability of the Bible be tested by the same criteria as any other historical document.