1. Use of Hyperbole and Exaggeration

Just because one believes in inerrancy does not mean that he or she believe in a “technically precise” view of truth. The Bible can and does contain exaggerations and hyperbole while not effecting inerrancy. Take John 4:39 as an example. In this passage, a Samaritan woman spoke of Jesus and said: “He told me all that I ever did” (emp. added). Did Jesus really tell her everything she has ever done? That would take quite a bit of time! As well, Paul says of false teachers that they “understand nothing” (1 Tim. 6:4). Do these false teachers really understand nothing? Nothing at all? Or is Paul speaking hyperbolically concerning their ignorance of truth? The latter is most definitely the case.

2. Speaking According to Cultural Convenience

Sometimes the Bible speaks in accordance with cultural understanding without any attempt to correct that understanding. For example, in Mark 4:31, Christ claims that the mustard seed is the smallest seed in all the earth. This does not necessarily mean that if agricultural science ever found a seed that was smaller (and they have), Christ was wrong. Christ could have just been making a statement that was in concert with the cultural understanding of the day without making a objective universal claim about this seed. The mustard seed was the smallest seed that these Palestinian farmers knew of.

While I don’t have any strong convictions about the age of the earth or how literal we should take the early chapters of Genesis, it is quite possible that much of what is being said is one of cultural convenience. This does not affect inerrancy, but is a matter of one’s hermeneutics (rules of interpretation).

3. Bad Grammar

Some of the writers of Scripture wrote very elegantly and would receive an “A” from their language teacher for not making any grammatical mistakes. For example, the writer of Hebrews not only knew the language well, but wrote very elegantly. Others, however, would not fare to well in their language class. John did not write to elegantly, more like he knew Greek as a second language. Peter was a bit clumsy too. Paul, while he could write well, would often get excited and run into some grammar problems. For example, Paul, in Romans 5:12 introduces a protasis without ever (grammatically speaking) concluded it with the apodosis. The protasis/apodosis usage in grammar has to do with conditionality and its results. It is the if/then statement or (in the case of Romans 5) the just as/so also introduction and conclusion. In Romans 5:12, Paul introduced the argument with “Just as through one man sin entered into the world . . .” but never, (grammatically speaking) gets to the “so also” (even though he does conceptually).

Thankfully, ones mastery of the language does not affect the truth it communicates (it just makes it harder to interpret).

4. Round numbers

The Bible often uses round numbers to communicate truth. In the book of Numbers we are told that Joshua had 600,000 men fighting under him. However, we later find the number to be 601,730. Is the first record wrong? Writers—even inspired writers—can use round numbers. Inerrancy does not require technical accuracy.

5. Summaries of Events

There is no reason to believe that if one summaries an event that they are somehow in error in their reporting. For example, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is much longer than it is in Luke (and Matthew’s version itself is probably a summary). This does not make one of them in error as it is the right of the author to record the events as they remember them and for their own distinct purposes. After all, each of the Gospel writers write different Gospels of the same story. Multiple perspectives will always lead to multiple points of view and multiple purposes will inevitably produce unique accounts. All of this adds to the historicity of the story and does not affect inerrancy.

6. Recording Wrong Theology

Each book of the Bible represents God’s truth in its own unique way. There is a wide range of literary types (genres) represented in Scripture. There is national history, chronology, poetry, personal letters, public letters, and prophecy (among others). Each type of literature teaches truth differently. Sometimes its through bad examples and sometimes wrong theology. For example, the friends of Job should rarely, if ever, be quoted for their worldview. It was wrong. Yet the Bible records their words. The Bible also records the words of Satan, most of which are wrong (remember . . . “You shall not surly die”?) As well, it is hard to understand how one is to understand the Book of Ecclesiastes. Is all really “vanity”? Does one really not know whether a man’s soul goes to heaven? (Eccl. 3:21). Yet all this bad theology is recorded in the Bible, but this does not mean the Bible teaches this bad theology.

Remember, just because it is in the Bible does not make it right. Inerrancy does not mean everything in the Bible is true, it just means that everything is accurate and everything being taught is true.

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