My answer to this week's challenge:
Do we have to think the Bible is the word of God in order to benefit from it? First, we need to define inerrancy and inspiration, which are properties of the Bible. What does it mean for the Bible to be inspired? 2nd Timothy 3 talks about the Bible being God-breathed. The words that God wanted to communicate through human authors, he did so in the Bible. Inerrancy is the idea that everything the Bible affirms as true is actually true.
The doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy are not essential to Christianity. You don’t have to believe in inerrancy to affirm that Christianity is true. You don’t even have to affirm that the Bible is the inspired word of God to affirm that Christianity is true. This debate is an in-house debate. Christians can debate this topic, but you don’t need it to have Christianity.
Let’s compare it to another idea or proposition that we would affirm. Is God’s existence essential to Christianity? Of course. If you take God’s existence out of Christianity, there is no Christianity. However, if you take inerrancy out of Christianity, you can still have Christianity. You can still make your case that Christianity is true without the inerrancy of the Bible.
There are some Christians who put too much emphasis on inerrancy and inspiration. These issues may be in the wrong place in terms of their stock of beliefs. They may believe that if you pull out inerrancy, the whole thing crumbles. I don’t believe that’s the case. If you pull out the existence of God, the whole thing crumbles, but not if you pull out inerrancy.
Even if you don’t have inerrancy or inspiration, you still have the general reliability of the scriptures as a historical source on the life, actions, and teachings of Jesus. Just from that, we could make a case that Jesus rose from the dead, and Christianity is true. There are some that put way too much weight on inerrancy, and it’s not essential for Christianity to be true.
Maybe inspiration and inerrancy are not essential, but they are important. I certainly affirm that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that it is inerrant. Christians emphasize it because of its significance. Specifically, it’s important because it speaks to the question of authority. Is the Bible really the Word of God? If the Bible is indeed God’s word, then yes, it has authority. If it’s simply the product of a bunch of men, it strips it of its authority. If you undermine the inerrancy of scripture, you undermine its authority.