Infallible or Inerrant?

December 5, 2011

We talk about the Bible being both infallible and inerrant. But what’s the difference? Aaron Armstrong answers this question.

Advertisements

5 Responses to “Infallible or Inerrant?”


  1. Can we note Barth here? I do come somewhat close to Barth on this, since the “Letter” of the Text, might also define truth, but only the Spirit can apply it.

    “For Barth, the Bible is not revelation. It does not reveal God, but instead points to revelation (i.e., God Himself). Scripture is written human language, expressing human concepts. It cannot, for Barth, be considered as identical as God’s revelation. The Bible is a mere physical instrument through which God’s revelation is conveyed, though it is authoritative for the Church.
    “Holy Scripture as such is not the revelation. And yet Holy Scripture is the revelation, if and as far as Jesus Christ speaks to us through the witness of His prophets and apostles. Holy Scripture is a token of revelation… But there has never yet been a faith in the revelation which has passed by this token, a faith which was not rather awakened, nourished and controlled precisely through the instrumentality of this token.” (Revelation, p. 67)
    “By this paradox Barth maintains that the text of scripture cannot be equated/identified with revelation (since revelation is the person of God in Christ), but its witness to Christ can be used by Christ to reveal himself.” [1] The Bible finds its authority because of its content – because it is a witness to God in Christ who gives it such authority.”

  2. Mark Says:

    Fr. Robert, I’m really grappling with this. Scripture isn’t revelation but it is the instrument through which revelation is conveyed. It’s difficult for me to make a firm distinction between revelation and the instrument through which the revelation comes. I certainly agree that Jesus is the revelation of God. But, why can’t scripture also “reveal” God? Perhaps more to the point for me, how does this distinction impact scripture’s authority in my life?


    • Mark,

      I agree and grapple here myself, Barth is making I think the point that the Scripture alone and without the Spirit is not fulness of God Himself, note Barth’s idea: “But there has never yet been a faith in the revelation which has passed by this token, a faith which was not rather awakened, nourished and controlled precisely through the instrumentality of this token.” (Revelation, p. 67) I know, one has to really think, but Barth’s point I think is we must beware of making the instrument the very thing itself, as Christ alone is the “Incarnate” Word (Logos) itself, and not the Letter! For me anyway this helps thinking that we somehow can control and capture the Word of God by the “Letter” of the text itself! But, this can easily be pressed into error. Barth was just such a thinker! > Now I am gonna lay down and relax my wee brain! 😉

  3. Mark Says:

    Interesting. I enjoy the exercise of trying to unpack what Barth’s point is. I’m wondering (since I’ve never read Barth) what he was concerned about. Did he want to make sure readers of the Word understand that scripture is merely the link between God an his Word? Okay. Then why work to make this distinction?


    • Barth was a real modern Church Father, and major thinker! I think he was concerned that the Bible and Word of God should not be seen as just in the “Letter” of the Text, but in the Spirit, and as Jesus said in “spirit and truth”!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: