Every few months I am part of a conversation where the inerrancy of the Bible comes up. In the past, I listened quietly but rarely put in my opinion. Mostly because I really didn't have one, and the argument seemed to be driven by folks who enjoyed theological fencing.
However, I have become more embolden to offer my opinion because I have seen these discussions take a turn in which they begin to elevate the Bible to a place, I believe, it was never meant to be.
Consider - "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" 2Tim 3:16
It is profitable for doctrine - correction and reproof - instruction in righteousness.
This is not how I am seeing the bible used. Here is how I do see it being used; see if you have encountered this.
The divinity of Scripture - The Bible as the fourth entity in the Godhead.
I see this transformation in two ways:
First, for eternal life we have added to dependence on Christ the qualification that you must believe the bible is inerrant. I am hearing more and more Christians equalize belief in Christ with belief in the Bible as inerrant. You must almost pass through the inerrancy door before you can come to Christ. The argument goes, "In order to believe in Christ, you must believe in the Bible because if the Bible contains error then how can we believe in Christ?"
The Second way I see this happening is through the synonymous usage of Christ, the word, and the Bible. Christians use them so interchangeably, that to many, there is nary a difference. Algebraic logic - Christ is the Word, The Bible is the Word, Christ is the Bible.
Pharisees and the Law, Christians and the Bible
Another thing I have encountered is the Bible being used by Christians the way the Pharisees used the Law. The Pharisees used Scripture to distance themselves from the irreligious. They made stuff complicated and difficult and thereby kept their club clean and exclusive. Unfortunately, the Bible seems to be used in the same way - not inviting people in, but keeping people out.
I believe few people come to Christ through proof. I see Christians get side tracked, and rather than talking about Jesus with unbelievers, they start arguing inerrancy. The reality is, you cannot prove the Bible is inerrant. If you choose to believe that, some of that belief must be taken on faith. So why argue it with an unbeliever? It will not change their heart. If proof were the turn-key, then the Israelites should have been the most godly, compassionate, and loving group around. No one in history saw more proof than them.
What does one mean by inerrant?
I am finding that the word inerrant has as many hues in explanation as the Trinity. What does one mean by it? To hear some folks explain it, you would think Paul was merely taking dictation. I have committed some of Paul's epistles to memory and one of the nice benefits of memorizing large portions of scripture is that you quit basing your theology on sound bites. One starts to see that it really is a letter, written by a man who is on a mission from God.
Yep, I said it, written by a man.
Is that so horrible?
This is Paul, a man who spoke with Christ, who faced all kinds of persecutions, who established churches, who was martyrd.
He is credible. I could do worse than to follow his instructions.
Are you saying you don't believe the Bible is inerrant?
No, I am saying I don't know.... and I don't particularly care.
In History you have primary and secondary sources. Primary are people or items that actually touched the event. Secondary is what it says... it came from a source secondhand.
For me, the Bible is THE primary source. I love CS Lewis, but if I find doctrine that contradicts the Bible, I will always go Bible first. For me, the Bible is used to develop doctrine, for correction and reproof, and for instructing me in righteousness. That is all it is intended for. I think to do more is to mold it into a golden calf.