Saved by Inerrancy?
I got a good question over the "Question Mark" line today. The essence of the question was "Do I have to believe that the Bible is inerrant (free from error or mistakes) in order to be a Christian?"
Many people will be surprised that my answer is 'No'. In order to be a Christian, you need to fully trust in Jesus as the forgiver of your past and the leader of your future. You buy into his message that the Kingdom of God is available to ordinary people and you trust Jesus to be King of you. That's the essence of it.
Now, if you do not believe that the Bible is fundamentally reliable but want to call yourself a Christian, you do have some significant problems. The biggest problem is how you will get reliable information about Jesus. If you eliminate the five best sources about the life of Jesus by considering them unreliable (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul - all found in the Bible), then you are left with precious little information about Jesus to base your faith on. It is truly difficult to place your faith in Jesus without having a basic trust in the New Testament Documents.
There are some who decide to go the "pick and choose" route. That is, they pick the stuff they like about Jesus/the Bible and leave the rest out. Interestingly, this is what Thomas Jefferson did, literally cutting out passages about Jesus that he did not like! This has one massive problem. How do you know if what you are choosing is the right thing? In other words, what makes a person think that now, 2000 years later, they know what Jesus did/did not say and do better than the eyewitnesses who were on the scene?
If you choose yourself as the authority about Jesus over his friends and followers, not only is it presumptuous and arrogant, it is intellectually dishonest. In essence, the Bible and Jesus become subject to your whims. If you are the authority over Jesus, then he can't be the king/leader of your life.
So, back to the question of inerrancy. In the Christian and Missionary Alliance, our doctrinal statement states that the Bible is inerrant "in it's original texts." This means that it is possible that scribes transcribing made some scribal errors in copying the texts. However, even though minor scribal errors may exist, the scripture is fundamentally sound, the most reliable source of information about life and God, and the ultimate authority for doctrine and practice.
At CCC, we count on the Bible as the authoritative text about Jesus. If the text messes with us and we disagree, then we have to realign our lives around what it says, not vice versa.