So I'm in class right now, learning about the difference between inerrancy and infallibility, specifically as it relates to the Bible. It's an interesting conversation, because the words are not synonymous, and Christians get pretty hung up on the importance of those two things. Here's my thoughts on it mixed with Dr. Kenneth Waters:
Inerrant - without material error (scientific, historical, geographical, grammatical, etc)
Infallible - without cognitive error (theological, moral, soteriological, etc.)
Now, there are those who are certain the Bible is without any kind of error at all, and I have problem with this and here's why: THERE ARE MISTAKES IN THE BIBLE, i.e., Gospel accounts don't quite match, some verses contradict others (David tempted by God in II Samuel or David tempted by Satan in Chronicles), and blah, blah, blah. And within the idea of inerrancy, one must fight to maintain the perfection. You have a huge burden of responsibility because if only one mistake exists, your faith is shattered. You must use logical reasons (and some of them are quite valid) to explain the "errors" away.
On the other hand, if you accept that the Bible has mistakes, at what point can you believe it? At what point can you say, "Well, this part's wrong, but this one's right. Why? Because it just is!" It seems like such a slippery slope if you admit that there is even one mistake because then there might be others.
But what if there was a way to believe what the Bible had to say without believing the way it was said is perfect? If we don't get hung up on the perfection of the Bible, we can get hung up on more important concepts, like Christ. For catssake, Jesus said that HE would be a stumbling block, not God's Word. The concepts contained within the Bible (love, justice, hope) are far more important than tracing back the root of a "mistake" (is it translation error, or something else?) so that we can espouse a viewpoint.
If I begin a discussion with someone about the perfection of Shakespeare's work, say Romeo and Juliet, and say that each word in it is perfectly contained in a textbook I have and that each one of the phrases in that play tells me how to live my life and that all this person needs to do is read the play and memorize it and their life will be changed, what have I done? I've given the person I'm talking to serveral different roadblocks to life change. And if fault can be found in anyone of those concepts (perfection of the document, phrases changing life, memorization of document's truth, etc), their "faith" in Romeo and Juliet will fall apart. And it's not because the document is faulted; it's because the method is faulted. If I instead read Romeo and Juliet, am so moved by the story (the love and sacrifice and tragedy) that I start digging deeper and deeper into the characters and setting and try to appreciate the beauty of Old English and the use of literary devices and transforming depth of the story itself. After that, I try to live my life like Romeo and give everything I have to love. Certainly, living a life like that would give people a good idea what Romeo and Juliet is about and how it could change their life, too.
I don't want to take the analogy too far because I'm afraid it won't hold up (and I don't know how evangelism fits into it, but for that matter I don't know how evangelism fits into life) but the point remains: the transforming power of God is not limited by a document, Holy Scriptures or otherwise. The issue at stake is not whether the Bible is flawless; the issue is whether or not I believe God can use anything to bring people to Himself. And that's where my faith lies. I believe the Bible contains truth (and ultimately, The Truth) but I don't believe that "truth" means to me what it meant to the writers of the Bible. The Bible is a book written thousands of years ago with tens of human authors that contains the story of God interacting with the world over the course of 4000 years. And it's beautiful. And it's full of love and ultimately Love.
God is bigger than any document and the Truth will set people free despite our 20th century, American concepts of truth (ie, truth must be historically accurate and scientifically proven). He brings hope to the hopeless and love to the unloved and faith to those who believe. He redeems that which has no worth. And He will continue to do so despite what anyone thinks of His book.
2 years ago