What is biblical inerrancy? At one level, it is pretty simple and straightforward. As Christian philosopher and apologist Norman Geisler says, “The Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot err; therefore, the Bible cannot err.” If the Bible cannot err, the Bible is inerrant. Broadly speaking, I support this logic.
Such logic, essentially means, that when we read the Bible, we can have the confidence that God is speaking truth to us, through the sacred text. A so called “Bible difficulty” is due to either an error with the translation, a faulty exposition being given about what the Bible says, or because of some misunderstanding on the part of the reader. The problem is never with God’s Word itself.
Pretty clear, right? Well, as they say, often the “devil is in the details.” Different Christians sometimes have different ideas of what they mean by “inerrancy,” and these differences can have diverse consequences in the details. Digging into those details has led some people to be encouraged in their faith in times of doubt, while raising more doubts in the minds of others, and thereby providing fuel to the skeptics’ fire. How can this be?
It all depends on how “inerrancy” is defined and defended. Have you ever thought about how the four Gospels treat Peter’s “three” denials of Jesus?
How God Became Jesus, by multiple evangelical scholars, is a popular-style, accessible rebuttal to Bart Ehrman’s book, How Jesus Became God.
From the preface of How God Became Jesus, by editor and Australian scholar Michael Bird:
[Bart] Ehrman is something of a celebrity skeptic. The media attraction is easy to understand. Ehrman has a famous deconversion story from being a fundamentalist Christian to becoming a “happy agnostic.” He’s a New York Times bestselling author, having written several books about the Bible, Jesus, and God with a view to debunking widely held religious beliefs based on a mixture of bad history, deception, and myth. He’s a publicist dream since in talk shows and in live debates he knows how to stir a crowd through hefty criticism, dry wit, on the spot recall of historical facts, and rhetorical hyberbole. He also has a global audience…
For conservative Christians, Ehrman is a bit of a bogeyman… Conservatives buy his books if only for the purpose of keeping their disgust with him fresh and find out what America’s favorite skeptic is up to now… For secularists,… Erhman is a godsend. He provides succor and solace that one need not take Jesus too seriously, confirming that religion is the opiate of the masses and that the whole God thing might be just a big mistake.
Why is Bart Ehrman, a professor of religion teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on a lot of people’s radar?