Obviously I don’t think so, but I must now add C. Michael Patton to the list of those who do accept the doctrine of inerrancy themselves, yet don’t believe it is an essential of the Christian faith, which he does in his humorous “AND OTHER STUPID STATEMENTS” series, If the Bible is not Inerrant, then Christianity is False.
Dr. Patton lists many of the reasons I have listed as to why the doctrine of inerrancy tends to breed other problems, such as a Christianity that is bibliocentric but not Christocentric. Now let me be clear that one can actually be both, provided one always is more Christo- then biblio-centric. One can also lose sight of Christ because one puts too low a value on scripture that points to Him.
Other than the fact that I am a Christian who no longer accepts the doctrine of inerrancy, even in its more nuanced forms, I agree with Dr. Patton’s article. I find his story of Gregg very interesting as well, and it reflects many, many stories I’ve heard as well.
In fact, the first reaction I usually get when I tell folks I left the church pretty much at the same time I received my MA in Religion, is that I must have discovered errors in the Bible and thus lost my faith. But that is not the case. My problem was with what I saw as the all-encompassing claims of Christ which in turn led me to question the validity of such a leap–not merely a leap of faith, but one also of deep trust.
I think that both those who think they must hold to the doctrine of inerrancy or lose their faith entirely, and those who abandon the faith because they discover errors make a common mistake. They make the Christian faith primarily about the knowledge of facts. Now doubtless there are facts involved with Christianity. Jesus either died for my sins or he did not. He was either raised from the did or he was not.
But my belief doesn’t alter those facts. More importantly, my simple acknowledgment of the evidence for certain facts doesn’t constitute Christian faith. After all, even the devils believe and trouble. For one to be in Christ, however, one needs to believe and trust, and that trust goes beyond the facts.
For me, the experience of life trusting in Jesus has made it one or another fact from scripture proven either right or wrong is going to change that basic trust. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” has become the unshakable center and I can examine other things openly with no fear.