Biblical inerrancy

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Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that holds that the Bible is inerrant and without imperfection. It is widely held by more conservative Christians, however the Bible itself does not claim to be inerrant. Christian fundamentalists go much further and claim the Bibl is literally true, so that key passages (like the creation story) are not to be treated as metaphors or inspirational stories.

Adherents argue the only way to hold that the Bible is the inspired word of God is to presume that it is inerrant, citing especially 2 Timothy 3:16, which, in the King James translation, says "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness". The consequence of a belief in inerrancy is a belief that the Bible can be trusted in all matters, and that the authors of the books of the Bible were divinely inspired by God.

There are many critics of Biblical inerrancy, both Christian and non-Christian. Non-inerrantist Christians tend to see Biblical inerrantists as having a belief system which lacks flexibility and is brittle, since it requires that all historical, archaeological and scientific evidence point in the same direction as their interpretation of the Bible, which leads them to cast undue doubt on the fundamental tenets of these fields when they question Biblical beliefs (see creationism and Biblical archaeology). Others criticize the method by which inerrancy is justified, namely that of using proof texts, which are often seen to be a form of circular reasoning, where the Bible is used to prove the Bible. Yet others point out that the fact that there are hundreds of churches claiming adherence to Biblical inerrancy which differ doctrinally prove that differences in interpretation are inevitable.

Public opinion

In 2005 63% of Americans believe the Bible is literally true and the Word of God; 24% disagree and say it is not. Among Evangelical Christians, 89% believe the Bible is literally true and just 4% say it is not. Among other Protestants, 70% believe the Bible is literally true, and among Catholics 58%. Age and gender differences are small but political differences are large, as 77% of Republicans believe in the literal truth, compared to 59% of Democrats and 50% of independents. Racial differences are strong, with 82% of black Americans believing versus 59% of whites and 71% of Hispanics.[1]