What Makes Someone Become a Biblical Inerrantist?

What Makes Someone Become a Biblical Inerrantist? March 1, 2014

John Schneider said this on Facebook, and it seems like such an important point, made so succinctly, that I wanted to turn it into a meme. Here’s another one, if you’d like a smaller image:

The idea that the Bible is “inerrant” is something that has to be imposed on the Bible, forcibly, fighting against all the extensive counter-evidence that the Bible proffers, kicking and screaming until its multitude of voices are mostly silenced by the inerrantist straightjacket, which allows only one voice – carefully chosen – to speak at any given time.

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  • SoWhat78

    Very true and well said, James! Even though, I’m no longer a religious devotee of any kind, I don’t think the Bible is a worthless book and I enjoy studying it from more of an academic perspective as opposed to a devotional perspective.

    Ever since giving up the unbearable burden of inerrancy and trying to explain away all the contradictions, and historical and scientific errors in the Bible, I’ve had a lot more fun studying the Bible and understanding the meaning of its writings.

  • Tom McGraw

    I think it could also be said that no one becomes a “Christian” or has a religious experience of any kind that can be rightfully credited to the acceptance of inerrancy as a theological doctrine. That is usually what I wd call “an add on.”

  • Of course this could be said of more than a few Christian doctrines.

  • arcseconds

    This doesn’t actually answer the question, though, does it?

    I think the question is both an interesting and important one, and I’m not sure it admits of a simple answer.

    Being raised like that is one answer, but even then you can ask how is it that some people give up their innerrantism and others don’t?

    The fact that several of Harold Camping’s followers were engineers and technicians is an interesting point.

  • Q. What Makes Someone Become a Biblical Inerrantist?

    A. Accident of birth—and being scared shitless of not believing exactly the right dogma. Who wants to burn in hell for a thoughtcrime? Or be Left Behind and get your head chopped off?


  • guest

    I dunno, I think some people might have got the idea that the bible is inerrant from reading it, or at least from reading those parts they always like to quote about bible inerrancy…the facts of how the bible was complied aren’t widely known or talked about. People know the phrase ‘the council of Nicea’ but not what actually happened there. And parts of the bible claim to be the words of god or at least his prophets.
    Of course most people come to the bible already full of preconceptions and they have done for at least 2,000 years. It’s not a straightforward set of texts with one plain meaning.

  • Ryan Hite

    The less of the Bible they actually read, the more likely they are to believe it literally. Of course, there are a few outliers on both sides.

  • TrevorN

    As someone said elsewhere (on another topic), it’s not that they actually believe it, it’s that they can’t face the trauma of it not being true.

  • Johannes Richter

    I have always found “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” very different from the inerrantism usually derived from it. But among Christians, saying anything less often sounds like I’m denying that Jesus was also God. Am I? Maybe it will help to combine the above with a footnote, explaining what it means to say that the Bible might not be in inerrant “in that sense”, and that it doesn’t have the effect of turning Jesus into just another prophet. I have found that lowering my expectations of the Bible has actually had the effect of exceeding my expectations of the Bible, and it’s not been the slippery slope to atheism as many fear…

  • Tracy

    I always used to think that, I don’t know. i still struggle a bit thanks to Chuck Missler – who says that every dot and tittle is there by intelligent design. Well how can that be if the bible is not inerrant? But i can see its not. So… does that make Chuck Missler wrong on that count? Hope this makes sense 🙂

  • My two guesses on an answer are “religion” and “a need for consensus and foundations for faith”.

    • arcseconds

      I’m pretty sure that all, or virtually all inerrantists are religious 🙂

      However, as the majority of religious people are not inerrantists, this isn’t the difference-maker, therefore we need to look for a further explanation.

      ‘A need for consensus’ pretty much describes the vast majority of human beings. While this sounds a bit more helpful in starting on an explanation, because we can note that some communities have this as a trope already, and the need for consensus will tend to perpetuate that, it would still be nice to know why this particular trope was settled on, and why it is so pernicious.

      After all, the need for consensus doesn’t prevent them from continue to disagree vehemently with their errantist fellows 🙂