Thesis: A thinking Christian can believe in an inerrant Bible.
1. Illust. There's an old story about four blind men who were introduced to an elephant for the first time. None of them knew what an elephant looked like. "Ah!" the first one cried out as he grabbed the elephant by the trunk. "An elephant is like a giant and powerful snake!" "No, you are wrong," said the second blind man as he ran his hands over one of the elephants floppy ears. "The elephant is like a large, leafy plant." "No, you are both wrong," said the third blind man as he wrapped both arms around one of the elephant's legs. "The elephant is like a strong, sturdy tree." "All of you are wrong," said the fourth man. He was holding onto the elephant's tail. "The elephant is like a rope."
2. People approach the Bible with the same sort of confusion:
a. < examples >:
1) The Bible is the literal Word of God without error.
2) The Bible is the flawed product of men.
3) The Bible is both the Word of God and the product of men.
4) The Bible is the Word of God and the product of men, but it does have mistakes in it.
b. Like the blind men examining the elephant, each one of these statements embraces only part of the truth about the book we call the Bible.
1) The Bible is the Word of God.
2) The Bible is also the product of inspired men.
3) The Bibles we have today do contain some copyist errors and some seeming/apparent contradictions.
3. What is important is to see the whole picture--the entire elephant, so to speak.
a. The Bible is the Word of God given to us through inspired men.
b. Mistakes and seeming contradictions are there, but they can be corrected and/or explained.
c. The Bible, as it was originally written and received is totally and completely free from error.
I. WHY INERRANCY MATTERS.
A. It does NOT matter to some.
1. Some simply accept the fact that the Bible has errors in it. (Even some Christians believe the Bible is not without error!)
a. Consider what one member of the churches of Christ has to say about this:
b. Illust. "Neither do I see it necessary to hold to a theory of absolute inerrancy of Scripture in order to accept it as authoritative. The Bible is hardly a volume that has come to us ... free of any kind of error. It is difficult for a thoughtful Christian to believe this. If it were true, it would make God responsible for every little mistake in scripture, such as in Mk. 2:26 where Abiathar is wrongly written for Ahimelech, or in Mt. 27:9 where Jeremiah is given credit for something said by Zecharia. We unnecessarily burden ourselves with the task of explaining all such discrepancies, as if the nature of biblical authority demanded this. Even though the scriptures make no such claim for themselves, [ See 1 Tim. 3:16-17 ] we belabor the point and make a big deal out of explaining, with all sorts of gymnastics, `the alleged contradictions and discrepancies of the Bible.'"
2. Others want to qualify error as "intentional deceit."
a. Illust. A cowboy wanted to get an insurance policy and the agent was interviewing him. "Have you ever had any accidents?" The cowboy thought a minute and then said, "Nope, but a bronc did kick in two of my ribs last summer, and a couple of years ago a rattler bit me on the ankle." "Wouldn't you call those accidents?" replied the agent. "Naw," the cowboy said, "they did it on purpose!"