When dealing with the inerrancy of Scripture, it is important to recognize that there are typically only 24 problems that people point to, and of these, only 12 are fairly serious.
Here are some examples:
- Genesis 1:11-12 says that the land produced vegetation, but in Genesis 2:5-7, it says that no shrub had yet sprung up from the land.
- Many people like to ask, “Where did Cain get his wife?” Genesis 4:17 says that he had a wife, but up to this point in the text, the only people on earth were Adam, Eve, and Cain (Abel was born, but murdered).
- Number 25:9 says that 24,000 died in a plague, but in talking about the same plague, 1 Corinthians 10:8 says that 23,000 died.
- In 2 Samuel 24:1, we read that God incited David to take a census of Israel, but 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that it was Satan who incited David.
How can apparent errors in Scripture be solved?
There are, of course, way more than just 24 problem passages in the Bible. If you want suggested solutions to nearly all the problems that critics of inerrancy raise, I highly recommend the following books:
Guidelines for Solving Biblical Difficulties
There are some basic guidelines for solving all biblical difficulties. Here is what I was taught in seminary:
- Recognize that the existence of tensions and apparent contradictions is not something new in the study of Scripture.
- The admission of certain textual problems is an honest and open response that invites study and positive evaluation.
- Be clear about the distinction between actual and apparent errors.
- Realize that the resolution of these problems must take place within an interpretive framework that takes account of the Bible as a whole.
- Remember that the doctrine of inerrancy teaches that solutions to problems in Scripture do exist, but the doctrine itself does not guarantee a ready solution.
- Recognize that there are currently unexplained difficulties, but this does not mean that they will always be unexplained. Further research in linguistics, archaeology, science, and Scripture may uncover a solution in the future. Many of the difficult Scriptural problems from previous centuries have been solved this way in recent years to the satisfaction of both Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals alike.
What do you think of these six points? To critics of biblical inerrancy, it sounds like we Christians are making the same argument as this man uses:
Is this what we do with Scripture? Do we need to be right so much that we arrogantly blind ourselves to the errors of Scripture, and when we cannot “explain away” some of them, we simply say, “Well, someday the Bible will be proved right”?
Or is it true that we really, truly have a book which is absolutely, completely free of all errors?