Persons raised Christian: Did/does your church teach Biblical inerrancy, and if so...

did you ever notice any contradictions as a child? If so, did you ever bring the matter up? If so, how did your parents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, and such answer your questions?

A couple of things before we begin. I’m not interested in debating Biblical inerrancy per se. That’s why the thread is not in Great Debates. I’m also not primarily interested in talking about contradictions between the Bible in science, but I don’t object to anybody bringing that up. What I’m hoping to hear is instances when you, as children, noticed things like the variant accounts of the Crucifixion in the gospels, or wondered why Luke and Matthew give irreconcilable genealogies of Christ, and so forth.


I was raised in the Methodist church. We were not taught biblical inerrancy as a general principle. It was common for people to give that as a primary reason why they joined the Methodist church rather than the Southern Baptist church down the street (those were the two main choices in town). For example, we covered some of the more unbelievable claims in Sunday School such as the extreme ages claimed for Methuselah and others and brainstormed some possible explanations why they were written that way.

Raised Methodist and I’ll have to agree with this.

Well, I learned something new today, thanks :slight_smile:

Yes I was, yes I did, and the general consensus was “No one, not even God, likes a smartass. Shut up and stop thinking so hard.”

I have been specifically told by my pastor that my questioning was an indication that demons were “using” me to try and bring doubt into the minds of the other children. That accusation carried with it the very clear implication that if I didn’t stop with the questions, I was going to get excorcised and then shunned by the church (I’m not kidding - my younger brother WAS exorcised, I now know it was due to his ADHD, but I thought he was posessed at the time also).

I was told at another church that I needed to close my mind to trying to “outthink God” because it was the same sin (pride) that tempted Lucifer to damnation.

I was also repeatedly told throughout my childhood that faith trumped reason, and that my tendency to use reason and logic were “stumbling blocks” to the necessary “childlike faith” that would get me into heaven. Apparently, if I wanted it badly enough, God would step in and fix that for me, and my continuing questions indicated that I didn’t want God to help me. It was therefore not only a spiritual failing that I asked the questions in the first place, but also a (more severe) spiritual failing that I remained curious when they went unanswered.

This had a great deal to do with my eventual exit from the church. There’s only so much cognitive dissonance one can stand and stay sane.

It leads me to the odd thought that if I had been in a less fundamental church environment, I may still be a believer. Very peculiar to think about.

I was raised in a series of small, very fundamentalist churches, the kinds of places that send kids out with Chick tracts and Sword of the Lord pamphlets door to door. As soon as I started questioning anything said by the pastor or teachers (about age 13) it was “shut the heretic up” time. Lots of peer pressure as well to not imply any level disbelief. Adults talking to my parents to keep me from poisoning thier offsprings’ tiny minds. Got me sent to summer church camp in my teens.

It didn’t change anything for me. I still became an atheist.

I was also grew up in a Methodist house, although my mom was really a Baptist and we went there sometimes.

Methodists seemed to be OK with the idea that there could be contradictions in some parts of the Bible.

Baptist seemed be of the opinion that the Bible was the actual true word of God, written by Him, but that you or I could make misinterpret what we read. That is where my faith was shaken first. The idea that I can’t read the bible and understand it but have to take the word of a preacher on every single thing in there makes no sense. Awfully convenient for the preacher that he is the only person on earth who has the really true understanding of what God wants.

I think as far as I can tell biblical inerrancy is thought implicitly in my church although if anybody were to express doubt they certainly wouldn’t get “CLEANSE THE HERETIC!!!” treatment and once we had a biologist who talked about evolution as a guest speaker. FYI its an independent, “community” church but with Presbyterian theology and organization.

RCC and it doesn’t, nowadays it paraphrases a famous verse as “to Science that which is of Science and to Faith that which is of Faith”. So the rest is moot.

Some of my “Catholic Theology” teachers ran into questions of inerrancy (for some reason all of them were about the OT, apparently Metuselah’s age caused more crises of faith than the Virgin Birth) and the answer was the one given above “yes, that absolutely contradicts what we know from Science; since it’s a scientific thing, we reckon the scientists are right. … Because it’s a parable, or if you prefer, guesswork based on very limited data and a lot of imagination.”

I was raised Roman Catholic, and the RCC definitely does not do Biblical inerrancy. Mind you, I still saw some contradictions in the general teachings of Christianity, which eventually led to me drifting away from religion in general. When I expressed these, I was usually met with a debate, particularly from a Jesuit priest who taught frosh religion classes in high school. I have yet to meet a Jesuit who didn’t love a good argument.

The exceptions were a handful of very old and/or evil nuns. (Most of the nuns in my life were pretty laid back.) I definitely grew up in the Warm Fuzzy Wing of the RCC.

Here is something that I think I understand (unless I don’t):

There are NO KNOWN original texts of any part of the Bible. The ancient manuscripts were copied and re-copied and re-re-copied, etc. – And throughout history (especially during ancient history), the copyists did not necessarily hesitate to do some re-editing as well, according to their doctrine or ideology or their own interpretations, or the political propaganda needs of the time and place. All of the “ancient manuscripts” we have today are those copies, many times removed from the originals. ETA: Even if they didn’t edit the text, they often added additional commentary, which later copyists (deliberately or otherwise) then incorporated into the text.

Serious biblical scholars, therefore, understand that the Bible we have today is a corrupted version of whatever God originally divinely dictated to the inspired writers. That is exactly why they have such an obsession with finding and studying as many ancient manuscripts as possible, to best reconstruct as nearly as possible what the original text may have been.

Many editions of the Bible have a phrase on the title page something like “…with all the ancient manuscripts carefully compared…” or some such. Some editions have all those footnotes indicating how a particular word or phrase appeared in various other manuscripts.

Serious scholars hold periodic international symposiums, where they argue and debate every little phrase that’s in doubt, pray for divine guidance, and then vote on which wording they believe best re-captures the original. Whoda thunk Bible text would depend on modern democratic majority rules?

Thus, serious thoughtful believers should also understand that the Bible today may contain errors, inaccuracies, and contradictions, and they could simultaneously believe, without contradiction, that the original Bible was inerrant and infallible. But even that is beyond the cognitive skills of many small-minded Bible-thumping fundamentalist preachers and their congregants, as described in some of the posts above.

Serious scholars, they ain’t.

Another Catholic here - Never taught an inerrancy doctrine.


I do not know if it is an article of faith in any denomination, but I’ve met more than one Pentecostal minister who taught that the King James translation is specifically the inerrant version: that the hand (mouth?) of God guided the translators in their work, and so that version of the Bible is superior to any other, including the source materials from which it came.

Raised Lutheran: inerrancy was not taught in the ALC/ELCA. I’m not sure if the Missouri Synod taught it or not.

I was also raised Methodist and had similar experiences to those described above. I specifically remember discussions of the loaves and fishes story (5 loaves and 2 fishes does not feed that many people - what could have really happened that day?) and the creation story (Who’s to say that 1 day to God = 1 day to humans?). I thought those were fascinating talks.

In other words, Revised and Updated by God Himself for the new era! :dubious: :smiley:

[sub]In English, no less! You’d think God Himself would at least insist that His revisions be written in Aramaic.[/sub]

It’s not the same ministers, but I can think of at least two Pentecostal clerics who honestly (and ignorantly) believe that Jesus may well have spoken English.

I was raised in a Baptist church. We were taught inerrancy, but not literalism. Any contradictions were only apparent contradictions – either a result of a translation problem, or a result of missing information given, something being taken too literally, or something being taken out of context or whatever. There were no true contradictions, only faulty interpretation. I still think this explains a lot (but not all) of what folks point to as biblical contradictions today.

I think so, Wisconsin Synod too.