The High Price of Inerrancy

March 21, 2011

Steve Douglas at Undeception has a thought-provoking post titled, “We might not like it, but it’s in the Bible, so …”

He questions whether those who defend the inerrancy of Scripture or certain prized doctrines do so at much too great a cost to the character of God. Here’s a taste:

… I am convinced that we need to be willing to question things that conflict with our conscience. In some cases, we may have to disagree with Scripture; in many others, we may find that we have simply been forcing something unnatural onto the text.

Regarding the atrocities of the Canaanite conquest: do you think it’s better to worship a God whose morality requires exceptions and redefinitions of key concepts than to live with the uncertainty that perhaps even the biblical authors were not fully aware of the depths of God’s grace? Are you content to excuse even the worst charges against God if by any means it vindicates your Bible and the comfortable theological confidence it gives you?

Steve goes on to suggest that there may be portions of the Bible that we should hope are wrong.

For Christians taught to believe that their entire faith rests on the unassailable reliability of the Bible, questioning the Bible in order to defend the character of God would seem like an inherent contradiction. But are the biblical texts the true foundation for faith? Steve argues otherwise:

My faith is in a God whose soul is more lovely than ours, who has a higher, more wholesome sense of love and justice than we are able to walk in as humans. My hope is built on nothing less than this!

Read the rest of Steve’s post here.


  1. it’s always seemed like a stretch that the Biblical authors completely and fully understood the nature of God – so the line “perhaps even the biblical authors were not fully aware of the depths of God’s grace” struck me.

    interesting question for sure.

    • I think it’s okay to concede that the biblical authors didn’t suddenly become omniscient the moment they put pen to parchment. Do you think it’s a matter of a progressive revelation by God or a progressive understanding of God by men? I lean toward the latter, but some guys I really respect (like Pete Enns) would argue for the former.

  2. CD, Charlie,

    I lean towards the second as an explanation for the historical shifts in judeo/christian theology.

    we let math, biology, architecture, music, engineering, political science etc. build on, and re-evalute the positions of the past. Why do we expect theology to cling to it’s first expressions?

  3. Since RJS linked to your site I’ve had dozens and dozens of hits on my blog from this post! Thanks for the link. 😉

  4. Saying such things in a good Bible-believing church in parts of the US is a quick way to tip the boat. For many evangelicals, inerrancy/infallibility doctrines are set in stone so deep that they dont really serve any God. Their religion is Bibliolatry. And if you question the text, youre not questioning what a 7th century BC jewish scribe wrote, youre questioning God himself.

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