Is the Bible inerrant?

I’ve always held that the Bible is inerrant, meaning that there are zero mistakes in it. I would agree with how the Lausanne Covenant, article 2 from the Lausanne Congress in 1974 puts it:

We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

However, I have recently been reading about other viewpoints on this, namely that while the Bible is the word of God, there are some errors in it. However, these do not affect the overall message. For example, some may allow for historical or scientific errors. This sort of thinking has become more common in the last few decades and this seems a significant enough issue for Christians to take seriously in debate.

I’m curious what people might think about this. Do others believe the Bible is completely inerrant? What if there are mistakes in the Bible - would this affect the overall message?


This statement accurately conveys my understanding of this matter:
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.


Hi @alison, thank you for raising this important question. I think it is a great way to become familiar with the issues surrounding the topic of inerrancy, which sometimes keep people from trusting in Jesus. As someone who came to a faith in Christ from Hinduism by reading the Bible, I can experientially say that there is power in God’s word to change lives just as Hebrews 4:12 claims. According to 2 Peter 1:21, I believe that the Holy Spirit guided the writing of scripture, I believe in the divine authority of God’s word that can stand against the enemy (Ephesians 6:17, Matthew 4: 4, 7, 10), I believe the Bible is all true (John 17:17, Psalm 119:160), that it is necessary for our sanctification (2 Timothy 3:16), that the word of God will not pass away (Matthew 24:35, Matthew 5:18) and we need the Lord’s guidance to understand the Word ( 2 Timothy 2:7). If our spiritual growth and salvation is entirely dependent on the trustworthiness and truthfulness of the Bible, I don’t think I can encourage the possibility of errors (things that don’t correspond to reality) in the Bible. If the Bible did contain error, what would be the basis of separating truth from error and who would be the authority? If it contained error, could we still proclaim Sola Scriptura ? If it did contain error on the natural sciences, how could we have confidence in what it says about spiritual matters? If it contained error, would it change our approach to reading the Bible and make it difficult for us to submit to it impeding our spiritual growth? If it contained error, would it also reflect badly on God who is not able to stay true to His word and accomplish it? There seems to be a lot at stake if we allowed the possibility of error in the Bible.

Yet there are several issues that need to be understood and engaged with while we ascribe to inerrancy of the Bible and we need to be careful with what we include under that term. I think there may be some things which we may not fully understand but may be progressively revealed with time just as Christ revealed things to the apostles that the prophets of past longed to understand (Luke 10:24).

  • In my own experience I have seen the doctrine of inerrancy used to mean inerrancy of a particular interpretation. For ex. Literal reading of Genesis 1. If there was evening and morning before the sun and moon were created, I sometimes wonder if the first day was twenty four hours long. Is the story of eating the forbidden fruit to be understood symbolically or literally? So there needs to be room for considering alternative explanations without sacrificing the foundational truths required for explaining the gospel and salvation. I feel more comfortable with the idea of inerrancy of a message after proper consideration of genre, context, and other literary elements. Yet, I wonder if we fallible humans will ever know the intended inerrant message in all of the Bible.

  • Are all the words in the Bible inspired by the Holy Spirit? Or are there places where we must see more of a human role toward the purposes inspired by God in these biblical authors? One example that comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 7:12, where Paul says he is stating his opinion not the Lord’s, OR in 2 Corinthians 12:2, where Paul confessed that he didn’t know how a man was caught up in heaven. I personally am more inclined to think that all information in scripture was intended to be there by God, with some parts of scripture being direct revelatory words from the Lord and some parts being personal accounts with limitations of human language and knowledge but truthful.

  • How are we to understand the discrepancies in some gospel accounts on minor details? (Healing of blind man - Matthew 20: 29-34, Mark 10: 46-52, Luke 18: 35-43). In my view, God may have intended for those discrepancies to be there to lend more credibility to the narrative of different eyewitness accounts. I don’t think we need to view these contradictions as errors.

  • Jesus makes statements in the New Testament that confirm the stories of the Old Testament such as the story of Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood and the story of Jonah. Its difficult to make sense of these stories scientifically but with God miracles are possible. I hope one day things will become clearer but considering the rest of the truth that Jesus shared, I trust that we will gain understanding on these with time.

  • The doctrine of inerrancy states that it only applies to the original autographs of the authors of the Bible. If God made a promise to preserve His Word, I don’t understand why He would allow textual variants in the manuscripts we now have. So to me this suggests that inerrancy may need to be applied mainly to the overall message but not every word of the Bible. As none of us describe the same event in exactly the same words every time, I dont think we need to expect that of biblical authors.

  • Some people claim mythical stories of the ancient near east play a role in the description of historical accounts in the Bible. I can understand God using culture and language of the audience to communicate truths to people, but God using pagan stories to communicate His story seems unlikely. Usually the counterfiets borrow from the true story rather than the other way around.

Some of such issues and more are covered in the book “Five views on biblical inerrancy” which I have yet to read fully. Its all a new area for me but I have just written down some points that I too have wrestled with as I read on this topic online. I am sure my understanding on this topic will continue to evolve as I learn more. I think the most important thing however is not what we just say about inerrancy but how careful we are in our interpretations. When people make the Bible say more than it actually does even on unclear topics, even inerrantists end up binding our conscience in areas where the Lord has given freedom, which can be devastating to our spiritual growth. Thanks again for the question. I feel I have learnt something new thinking about it.


@ross thank you for this statement regarding Biblical inerrancy. I agree with what you have said and feel this summarises well how I understand scripture to hold together.

@lakshmi thank you for taking time to address the various aspects of this question. I really appreciate all the scripture you have referred to in outlining the important issues to consider. I think this is a real help to anyone looking into biblical inerrancy.

I know some skeptics might argue that by using scripture to verify scripture, we’re making a circular argument. One of the things that’s really impacted my confidence in scripture is by looking at the historical reliability of the gospel accounts. I find all the stories of skeptics and atheists who seek to disprove the resurrection, only to find the evidence so overwhelmingly convincing that they become Christians themselves, so significant. I’m thinking of people like Lee Strobel or Lew Wallace. By establishing the reliability of the gospels, I can then trust what they say about Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. And within the gospel accounts, Jesus himself affirms Old Testament scripture. If we can trust what they say about Jesus’ death and resurrection, we must be able to trust about what He said about OT scripture. Another thing is that the stories of Jesus in the Gospels show the fulfilment of a great many prophecies through the OT. I think that fulfilled prophecies are another strong indication that what is written in scripture is inerrant.

Sometimes, criticisms come of scripture regarding geographical places or certain concepts mentioned in scripture. However, archaeology then uncovers something to verify what they Bible said all along. There’s been some really interesting discoveries in the last hundred years that affirm what the Bible says, helping to consolidate the biblical authors’ identities, time of writing, or details they included in their accounts to make them trustworthy.

I like how you said;

There is no room for inerrancy, in my opinion. I find what you’ve also outlined in your response very sound reason to trust the Bible in its fullness, even parts that we don’t understand yet.


I think you meant Lee Strobel and J Warner Wallace. Glad you brought up those names. These two are the main resources I turn to for extra biblical support on historicity of resurrection.

Very true…sometimes only time will help get clarity on archeological finds. Here’s one such example on

When Jesus heals the paralytic in the Gospel of John, the Bethesda Pool is described as having five porticoes—a puzzling feature suggesting an unusual five-sided pool, which most scholars dismissed as an unhistorical literary creation. Yet when this site was excavated, it revealed a rectangular pool with two basins separated by a wall—thus a five-sided pool—and each side had a portico.

You can read the whole article on the Bethesda Pool here.

And you are right…there are several concepts that have come under attack, and to address those we will probably need to take each one separately and spend considerable time evaluating. Your question though has been great to get a bird’s eye view on the problem.


Hi Alison! This is a super interesting point. Just as Ross mentioned, I do believe that the bible was inspired by God himself, meaning that we should read the bible as God’s transformative message to us rather than just a text.

Truthfully speaking, I believe that the overall message of the bible stays the same, though some meanings are already lost in translation when it was translated into the English language. Therefore, in this sense I can’t help but say the bible is completely without “mistakes”. However, through the many cross examination of different versions, one could pinpoint the meaning closest to the original language. On top of this, I felt like which books were chosen to be included into the protestant bible would also come into play when looking into how one interprets the overall message of the bible.

It would be good if as Christians, we could admit that there are things we do not have answers to. Unfortunately, historical data and the dating of the pentateuch are severly lacking. Going by this basis, I think faith is absolutely necessary when it comes to beliving in the message of the bible. Be it the lack of historical and scientific evidence regarding some areas of the bible, or perhaps some parts being lost in translation, the ultimate message does not change. The heart of God for his people throughout the old and new testament remains the, along with many other areas one could still use as evidence to support the message of the bible.


You make a great point. I agree we can be honest about what doesn’t make sense and continue to debate ideas on the difficult topics. Claiming something is true before we understand will cause others to only detract from the gospel. However, we can remain confident about what does make sense in the Bible with regards to our need for Savior, His life, His work on the cross.


Regarding the Scripture’s inerrancy, I am of the opinion that it only strictly applies to the authographs, the original, first-hand inscriptions. All subsequent translations and versions are inevitably prone to error. I don’t think there could be any version or translation that could claim inerrancy in every aspect of its production.

But as to the Scripture’s inspiration, I believe all versions can be used to lead a person to the basic truth of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, in reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

Regarding the Scripture’s total infallibility, including Its historical and scientific claims or statements, I think it’s safe to say that the Bible has proven Itself, many times over, that any arguments presented to refute Its claim to infallibility has been dismissed by subsequent archeological findings or scientific discoveries. As have been said, the Bible is the anvil that has worn out many a hammer.

The Anvil of God’s Word
“Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

“‘How many anvils have you had,’ said I,
‘To wear and batter all these hammers so?’
‘Just one,’ said he, and then with twinkling eye,
‘The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.’

“And so, I thought, the Anvil of God’s Word
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.”

—attributed to John Clifford


I should have elaborated on those names I referenced, as I was speaking into some remarkable conversions, and J Warner Wallace is another name to add to the list :slightly_smiling_face:. Lew Wallace was the guy who wrote Ben Hur, and has an interesting story where the facts of the Bible and the resurrection were so compelling that he decided to follow Christ.

So many conversions from atheism to Christianity could also be looked up, CS Lewis being another. What I find interesting is that they each look into the reliability of the Bible as part of their turning to Christ.

Thank you for referencing the Bethesda pool. When I was writing my earlier post I couldn’t remember which archaeological site I was trying to pin down, and that’s the one!

I’ve also found a helpful list of the archaeological evidence that supports the Bible as a reliable historical document:


Hi @dennis

What a great analogy and poem, thank you!

You and @kiko both raise a good point: that we should be reading several translations to get a full understanding of how scripture was set down originally. I think an important aspect of this is the process to which any Bible translation is formed. Generally, I believe there is a large group of scholars familiar in the ancient languages who check each other’s work when agreeing on the translations. I suppose this can be another thing that any diligent Bible reader should check out, which is who the people translating are, and how did they go about it. I know there are some ‘translations’ of the Bible that are totally written by one or two people. This can lead to some very unreliable texts appearing.

I like how scripture has made it clear that no one is to add to or take away from the word of God: Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:5-6, Revelation 22:18-19 I believe this helps protect the Bible from such things happening easily because anyone taking it seriously might be careful about this, at least I’d hope so!


@Alison, as I was reflecting on your question I was reminded that in 1974 Protestant Church leaders gathered to answer the same question. 200 of them gathered in Chicago and developed what is now known as the Chicago Statement.
Here is a link if interested, and I am sure that if you wanted to check the validity/authority of the signatories on the statement you can find them on line.


There is a now a plethora of new versions, often under the title of older versions as a so called “update”, that pit men against women which we never were before.

For myself I don’t what the originator of the phrase “sola scriptura” (for the purpose they had in mind) was trying to filter out.

Most churches and writers / broadcasters assume and impose teachings that aren’t in the meaning of Holy Scripture as I understand it, and deny ones that are in it.

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Hi @michael :wave:

What is it about the originator of the phrase “sola scriptura” that you particularly don’t like?

Don’t know its history. But I found the statement fine, Biblical, even. Would like to know if it’s associated to something I should be cautious about.


“Love believes all things” not in the sense of swallowing, but of assiduous examination Berean style and hence rightful appreciation for their true value.

It comes from Luther and friends I think; I have to catch up on them; have just ordered a book about Carl Henry which will take a few weeks to get here. Given what excommunication meant at the time Luther got excommunicated far too soon and the Emperor weighing in made everything worse, resulting in mass deprivation.

I note Luther was often assisted by associates and I would like any guidance as to what phase of their collaboration the “solas” belong to? (I am looking up a mass of topics in parallel.) Did Calvin accept any of the “solas”?


Hi @alison
This was an interesting thread to read through with many great points being raised and discussed. Recently I listened to some of Mike Winger’s teaching as part of his Evidence for the Bible series.

This link is to page 2 where here begins to cover the variations in manuscripts and begins to evaluate the translations we have today.

What i found helpful is that the variations in the manuscripts actually help us have confidence that the Bible we have today is reliable and the original message had not been lost.
What You Need to Know About the 400,000 Variants in the Bible: Evidence for the Bible pt15

From his lesson notes, he says to avoid

Modern hyper-confidence
  ▪ Not only do I have the word of God
      • There are NO translation issues
            o This isn’t Greek
      • NO textual issues
            o Two differing readings that each be the original
  ▪ Modern KJVO advocates
  ▪ Can’t allow any questions to be asked,
  ▪ Any mention of textual issues destroys faith