Biblical inerrancy is a tricky subject, and is often used by secularists as a way of showing believers to be a bunch of knuckle-dragging troglodytes. Mostly this is because most of us don’t really understand what the term “inerrancy” means. By the way, in my festering youth, before I was born again, I used to be among those who would scoff at the Baptists (now I are one) and others who would speak of the inerrant word of God. Because I did not understand it. Now, I think I have a better grasp of the concept…I think.
First, a quick extract from the Chicago (Reformed) Statement on Inerrancy: Scripture is “without error or fault in all its teaching.” Note: not in every single word, taken literally. Rather, in all its teaching. God’s truth is revealed in Scripture, and the form of the words, as translated by imperfect humans, should not all be taken out of context.
In other words, Scripture is not necessarily literally true in every statement. God’s truth remains, sometimes hard for us to discern, but usually not. As for the literal part, consider meetings that you and I have to attend as part of our working lives. At least I know I used to have far too many of them.
Staff meetings used to last “an hour.” At least that was the published time. By my watch, they sometimes lasted 61 minutes, sometimes 59 minutes, sometimes 59 minutes 30 seconds (when I was especially bored and played with my chronograph). So, the published statement that the meeting lasted “an hour” is not the literal truth. An hour being 60 minutes and 0 seconds. On the other hand, in the real world, “an hour” conveys exactly the right amount of information. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. The truth was that “an hour” would be taken from our lives in those silly meetings, never to be given back.
That’s the difference I see when I read Scripture and find something that is hard to translate into concrete, precise terms in the here and now. The truth remains. God’s truth. And God doesn’t require staff meetings.