Inerrant, Infallible or both?

When used of the Bible, the terms inerrant and infallible are often not clearly understood.  As God’s word, the bible is accurate and able to accomplish its purpose.  That we know (Hebrews 4).  When we speak of the Bible as inerrant, we mean that the words as presented in the canonical books are the exact words that God intended to be there.  When we speak of the Bible as infallible, we mean that the illocutionary event whose meaning is rightly interpreted and applied accomplishes the purpose for which it was meant.  Any apparent contradiction in statement, meaning or purpose is a failure of our finite human perspective, interpretation or application and not an “inaccuracy” in the biblical text and message.

Critics would call this “circular reasoning” and dismiss adherents as “obscurantists”.  But what critics do not want to admit is that any epistemological claim has its “ground of being” in some sort of faith statement.  Revelational (biblical) epistemology says, “I trust God’s word” therefore.  Scientific (logical positivism) epistemology says, “I trust my senses” therefore.  In any epistemological claim the ground of being statement is always considered unverifiable and unassailable.  So lets admit everyone reasons in a circular manner and let that criticism be rendered inconsequential so we can move forward to evaluate the actual truth claims that come forth from the epistemology itself.  This is where the rubber meets the road.

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