A while ago I put up a post called “Why say the Bible is Inerrant?“ Nic Pezzato left this comment on that post:
I would…suggest that the terms “infallible” and “inerrant” probably have a different working definition for the scholar than to the layman’s vernacular. I wish that someone would give us a “blue-collar” phrase to answer the question “does the Bible have mistakes in it?”
I’ve been meaning to get back to this topic since then. It’s so important it will be worth returning to again and again. So here’s an attempt to answer Nic’s request:
“Whatever the holy, unerring, and faithful Father speaks is–by virtue of having come from Him–holy, unerring, and faithful.” (That quote is from a guy named Michael Horton.)
Or here’s John Frame:
“inerrant means, simply, ‘without error.’ I would say that Scripture is both inerrant and infallible. It is inerrant because it is infallible. There are no errors because there can be no errors in the divine speech.”
Or here’s a longer look at it:
“Inerrancy means that when all facts are know, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything they affirm, whether that has to do with doctrine or morality or with the social, physical, or life sciences.” With the expression “when all the facts are known,” [Paul] Feinberg adds an eschatological note to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. The doctrine does not require all difficulties to be settled immediately. It is just conceivable that in any particular case of difficulty all the relevant facts are not yet known. Once again, the warning is not to declare the question settled too quickly – in one direction or another. However, this eschatological perspective takes us further. Scripture plays a role in the larger purposes of God, which reach their fulfillment only in the eschaton. It is possible to become myopic, to lose all sense of proportion and give the impression that everything depends upon the resolution of all biblical difficulties in the present. This has never been a part of classical expositions of the doctrine. The early church fathers, the Reformers, and later staunch defenders of inerrancy such as B.B. Warfield all recognized difficulties that were resistant to an easy solution.
–Mark Thompson, “The Divine Investment in Truth” from Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?