The Bible was written by about 40 different men during a span of about 1,500 years. Even though it claims to be God-breathed (2 Timothy 3: 16) it was not dictated word-for-word from God to man. In addition, many of these men committed terrible sins. David was an adulterer and murderer, Moses was a murderer, and Paul helped put Christians to death. The Bible states that everyone is a sinner (Romans 3:23; 5:12–19).
Question: Is it even plausible for a Christian to claim infallibility for the Bible since it was written by fallible men?
I believe it is not only plausible, but that the Bible is in fact, inerrant and infallible.1 The critics and skeptics have gotten a great deal of mileage out of this attack, but their arguments are not as compelling as they may seem.
It is true that all men are fallible, except Jesus, of course. Any honest person will readily admit they have made mistakes. I know that I make mistakes and it is likely that mistakes exist on this website so I certainly would not and could not make a claim of infallibility for myself. So how can I believe that it is possible for men like David, Moses, and Paul to have written books containing no errors? The answer is actually quite simple.
Just because we make mistakes does not mean that we have to make mistakes in everything we do. Nor does it mean that we always make mistakes. It is certainly possible for a man to write an inerrant and infallible book. It is likely that some Math textbooks out there are infallible books written by fallible people. 2+2=4 and 10×10=100. Despite being a sinner, I am capable of writing something that does not contain mistakes. In the same way, the authors of the Bible could have written their respective works without error. This possibility becomes reality when we recognize that the authors of Scripture were “moved” by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
Furthermore, God has done in the Bible something no other holy book has ever dared to do. He based its credibility upon His ability to tell the future with one hundred percent accuracy. More than one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic when it was written. No other holy book comes close in this regard. In fact, most of these books contain no prophecies at all! The Bible sets the standard very high. Deuteronomy 18:15–22 states that if a prophet ever made a prediction that failed then he was not speaking for God. Some view this as being a convenient way for Bible believers to excuse any possible mistakes; however, much more is at stake. Since the Bible contains so many prophecies claiming to be from God, it only takes one failed prophecy to discredit the book. If Isaiah, while claiming to speak for God, made a mistake in any of his prophetic statements, then he did not speak for God and the rest of his writing is suspect. Not only that, every other book that quotes Isaiah as one of God’s prophets is also suspect (e.g. Matthew 1:23; Romans 9:27). God placed His reputation on the line by allowing fallible men to write His infallible Word but He has been faithful to keep it free from error.
The Bible has been scrutinized, criticized, and attacked for centuries, and it has withstood every assault. It is unique in every way. More importantly, it is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. There is so much more that can be said about the doctrine of inerrancy, but this post is merely designed to address the question of how fallible men could write an infallible book.
[This article is slightly updated from an article originally posted on my website in 2005.]
- The evangelical doctrine of biblical inerrancy states that God’s Word is without error in its original manuscripts. It allows for copyist errors or typos in the modern translations. These modern errors are few in number and often disappear when comparing the ancient manuscripts. There are a handful of difficulties that remain unsolved since we do not have a wealth of manuscript evidence in certain passages, particularly in the OT books of 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. This does not mean that an error exists, nor could a skeptic prove an error exists in these passages since they do not have access to the original. ↩