Inerrantists are My Brothers and Sisters in Jesus—Not My Enemies

I do not believe in biblical inerrancy. I think inerrancy is a very harmful belief, and I often demonstrate the errors of the assumption, or presupposition, of inerrancy. Of course, I get a lot of push-back from inerrantists and (though I try to be civil) I don’t back down from calling it a misguided perspective.

Some of those who disagree with me are not so civil; but, whatever they say, they are NOT my enemy. They are, in fact, my brothers and sisters in Jesus, and I know Jesus loves them just as much as he loves me. And I must admit that I love them, too—from my heart—fully and without reservation no matter how badly they try to beat me up. Jesus tells us to love our enemies, but in this case they are NOT my enemies—they are my brothers and sisters.

I Am Committed to Jesus’ Final Command to Us

love one another2

John chapter 13 tells us of the last time Jesus assembled with his twelve disciples. It was just before the Passover festival and they were gathered in the upper room of a home. It was then that Jesus surprised his disciples by washing their feet. Later, Jesus predicted his betrayal and also Peter’s denials.

It is within this context that Jesus says,

My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Many of us seem to be much like Peter—thinking about other things instead of absorbing the magnitude of Jesus’ command. Perhaps this is why so many Christians seem to NOT love other Christians with whom they disagree.

But we follow the same Jesus, how can we not love each other?

Questioning Beliefs vs. Questioning Character and Motivation

I firmly disagree with inerrantists on the issue of inerrancy. But I don’t question their motivations—not even the motivations of their leaders and teachers. I think they really believe what they say about the Bible being inerrant; I know I did for years when I was an inerrantist. Now there are always a few in every group who have questionable motives, but it is not my job to judge that. I believe the vast majority of inerrantists are genuine in their belief. But, in my opinion, the problem is that their belief is misguided and is very, very harmful.

On the other hand, many inerrantists often attack my character and motivations. I become subject to accusations, name-calling, denigration, and personal attack. I become a deceiver and tool of Satan to draw people from the truth and put them on the road to hell—a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not every inerrantist does this, but many do. And I don’t take personal offense to it, but I do tire of hearing it over and over.

Even so, we still follow the same Jesus who loves us both; we are brothers and sisters in Jesus, and I love them and wish them well. They may think I am their enemy, but I don’t think they are my enemy. In fact, I am not even interested in trying to change their mind on inerrancy. Who am I to tell someone else what to believe?

Then Why Not Just Let it Go? (The Bad Fruit of Inerrancy)

The legitimate question might be asked, ‘If we are not enemies, and we both follow Jesus, and I am not interested in changing their mind, then why not just let the issue of inerrancy go?’ The answer is that, instead of trying to change people’s minds on inerrancy and other harmful beliefs, I try to be a resource and support to those who already question what they have been taught. It is very difficult and frightening for a person to question the authority of their tradition by themselves.

But there is a second reason, as well. Inerrancy is a doctrine that leads to all sorts of bad fruit.

Inerrancy leads to restriction of the Bible.

A flat reading of the Bible does not produce the richness to the reader they otherwise would experience from a more complex and well-rounded approach. The biblical writers wrote from different eras, cultures, and understandings about God to a range of situations that were important to them at that time. They also wrote in a variety of genres that were not literal or historical. It is a great loss to ignore those things.

Inerrancy leads to proof-texting instead of contextual reading.

A peculiar result of inerrancy is proof-texting. Proof-texting pulls a verse or phrase from the Bible to ‘prove’ some doctrinal point—often with little regard to context—as though that short passage, being ‘God’s inerrant word’, is all that is necessary to prove the point. Often these snippets are gathered together from many different places that are not even contextually connected to make an even stronger proof.

This is not how the Bible works.

Inerrancy leads to fear and unnecessary burdens.

Perhaps even worse, assumption of inerrancy and the use of proof-texting give rise to fear and burdens in a host of other very harmful beliefs, such as angry god, punishment in eternal hell, legalism, abuse of women, and condemnation of LGBTs.

So, in addition to being a support to those who are already questioning their beliefs, exposing the false assumptions of inerrancy might cause others to begin to question and begin a new journey. And that is a good thing!

In the Meantime

In the meantime, remember that inerrantists and progressive believers should not be enemies—they are brothers and sisters in Jesus. And we should love each other just as Jesus loves us.

Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.

Articles in this series:
Belief in Biblical Inerrancy Must be the Second Most Damaging, Misguided Christian Belief of All
Why Do Inerrantists Think the Bible is Inerrant Anyway?
How the Bible Actually Works by Peter Enns: a Book Review
Did Jesus Confirm the Inerrancy and Historicity of the Old Testament?
5 Common False Assumptions Inerrantists Make about Me as a Progressive Believer
Inerrantists are My Brothers and Sisters in Jesus—Not My Enemies

See also:
Books and Resources on Inerrancy


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35 Responses to Inerrantists are My Brothers and Sisters in Jesus—Not My Enemies

  1. Pingback: 5 Common False Assumptions Inerrantists Make about Me as a Progressive Believer | Jesus Without Baggage

  2. Pingback: Did Jesus Confirm the Inerrancy and Historicity of the Old Testament? | Jesus Without Baggage

  3. Pingback: How the Bible Actually Works by Peter Enns: a Book Review | Jesus Without Baggage

  4. Pingback: Why Do Inerrantists Think the Bible is Inerrant Anyway? | Jesus Without Baggage

  5. Pingback: Belief in Biblical Inerrancy Must be the Second Most Damaging, Misguided Christian Belief of All | Jesus Without Baggage

  6. Ken Hogan says:

    I think labeling (i.e. communists, abortionists, inerrantists, atheists, evolutionists, creationists,) is a language feature that discourages examination of nuance and fans flames of discord. Consider the difference between the phrases “The inerrantist states X” vs. “Inerrancy argues X”. The later places the position as the point of discussion, not the person holding that view. The former has an accusatory and presumptuous tone, whether there was intent or not, and provokes a defensive
    reaction: Voila! An argument ensues!

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Ken, I like what you said, and I agree with you on the inadequacy of labels. People are not the same, and no label fully describes everyone within that label. The distinction between your ‘phrases’ is good too.


    • Chas says:

      Ken, It is surprising how many words ending in ‘ist’ are ones that convey intolerance, so it might be expected that the flames of discord are both lit and fanned by them.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely can do better here. I still have quite a bit of anger and bitterness towards my upbringing, and I’ve been seeing a counselor about it for a year or so now. I want to get to the point where I don’t feel the need to pursue this issue as much, and I want to get to the stage where I can handle insults and also not return them. I’m doing much better than I was a couple years ago.

    I do believe fundamentalists are genuine. Some aren’t, and they are usually obvious, but most of them are. They do have something of a righteous anger to protect the God they were taught, and I can admire that. I can admire that they want to protect truth. But, like you said, when their “truth” hurts the Truth and His plan, I have to speak up about it. I have to express my heart on these matters. Hopefully, I can find a good balance on it someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Prog, I had to do a lot of changing as well–and it isn’t easy. And, of course, I am still working on myself. It is terrible the way that fundamentalism/evangelicalism can cause such anger and bitterness. And fear–often it generates a lot of fear for those who walk away.

      And I agree with you; I have to speak up. I cannot ignore such dangerous belief. I hope your counseling is going well.


      • My counseling is going very well, actually. My counselor is a Christian, but does not bring God into the equation unless I give permission. We’ve discussed my newer beliefs on many things, and, it’s sorta funny, he’s been reading about them and asking me questions. He’s very open-minded and seems to be understanding where I’m coming from and where I’m going pretty well. I think he’s considering changing his own beliefs on various subjects.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Grzegorz Black Fox Szurlej says:

    Hi there! Black Fox is back!

    Well, Bible is not a Word of God to me. You know about it well…. But when I’m thinking about this topic I can’t oppose it.

    I swear. I hate a lot of people, but it does not mean I am not praying for them.
    A lot of people failed me… Failed me so much and that is so sad to me. But I’m praying for them. Everyday I’m going to my job I’m asking God for everything best for all animals, humans and other living beings.

    And “all” always means all – that is the fact. And even my foes are included here. I started it 6 years ago when I lost a precious friend. We both failed, but the only thing left was prayer… So I started it.

    I’m ot praying for the punishment for them, I am asking for wisdom for them, for every grace. And I want to see all living beings there. No matter the specie, place and time of life. No matter who are what they been to me.

    I don’t know You people, but I want to see You all there too. And I believe I’ll. You musn’t to reply me, You musn’t to tell me “Black Fox, I exist”, You’re already on that list.

    Being the Black Fox is like being a wolf and cat… It’s like a life when You walk Your own paths totally alone. But it isn’t the path of pure hatren. I told I hate a lot of people… I’m just weak guy, but not that much to not pray for them, for You all. I’m just a complicated person and I can’t help that, sorry ^^’

    But remember, I want to see You all in Heaven as well as everything else We can to call human, animal or any other living being.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Tim, given your belief on inerrancy, are the prophets in the Old Testament speaking for God? For example what do you make of Isa. 53, or Daniel’s 70 week prophecy? Do you see any of the Messianic prophecies as being relevant to what Jesus has done thus far? As you know I believe in inerrancy in the original languages. So yes there are some issues in dealing with translation and there are minor copying errors, which really change the message very little.
    Whom will he teach knowledge? and whom will he make to understand the message? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little.
    Isaiah 28:9-10 ASV. Jesus promised to send us another counselor to teach us. Does he teach us all who have ears to hear the same thing or is the confusion we see in thinking coming from our not hearing him? How does that fit into your thinking, and do you believe you possess this comforter that Jesus promised?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jerry, Daniel’s book is apocalyptic at that point, and I don’t think that is the same thing as prophetic. I think the writer of Isaiah was writing to issues of his own day and not some time in the future. So, no, I don’t think this is a prophecy of Jesus, though I know that many people do. The consensus of scholars seems to be that the man of suffering is actually Israel as a nation. I think whatever ‘messianic prophecies’ there might be in the Bible led the Jews to expect a warrior to free them from Rome–not a person like Jesus

      I feel that I have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but I don’t make any specific claims about that. It is not easy to distinguish the guidance of the Spirit from one’s own thoughts. If you are asking if I have received the Holy Spirit in a pentecostal sense, the answer is yes. I was pentecostal for very many years and I have never repudiated that experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tim, you have either come a long way or you have fallen a long way depending on your perspective. Speaking of which and I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I think that you must disregard Jesus’ Matthew 24 discourse also, in which He states that there is Coming a falling away as a result of false prophets. Am I reading you correctly? And if I’m reading you correctly are you not bordering on proof texting yourself when choosing what baggage to remove from Jesus?

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Jerry, I am not sure of the point you are making with Matthew 24. I think there have been false prophets in the church throughout its history; and there are those who followed those false prophets. I don’t see any reason to disregard this chapter, though there is considerable disagreement as to what it means. Can you elaborate on the question?

          Regarding removing baggage, whereas inerrantist tend to make conclusions from an assumption of inerrancy, others of us come to conclusions from a more contextual critical analysis of passages. I think many of my conclusions are pretty solid, but I am sure I am wrong on some issues, but an assumption of inerrancy would not help.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Tim I’ll try to clarify. False prophets lead to false belief, which can lead to falling away. Even a critical examination of this passage would see this argument clearly presented. The problem then occurs for example with most believers. That they cannot fall away, so they put this into a box for just the Jews. You on the other hand from my understanding of your overall position, I think you would say that no one will end up in a fallen state, as relates the Gospel message — Jesus died for the sins of the world — so all will be delivered. So for you what is the meaning in this passage of falling away in Jesus’ applied context. This in context (critical or otherwise) presents to be an actual falling away due to false teaching. And I guess my point was to have you think on this, because if that is the case, you need to consider are you teaching correctly?

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Jerry, thanks for the clarification. Notice that the disciples asked Jesus three questions 1. When would the Temple be destroyed, and 2-3. What is the sign of Jesus’ coming and the end of the age. Within his answer, Jesus says: “many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

            I think this has occurred repeatedly during the history of the church. False prophets and falling away. But falling away from what? John writes that it is a falling away from faith–falling away from following the teaching of Jesus. But if I understand you correctly, you suggest that the falling away is falling away from ‘salvation’, and you state this is: “an actual falling away due to false teaching.”

            Then you suggest that I consider whether I am a false teacher. Why not ask if it is fundamentalist and evangelical teachers who are the false teachers leading people astray from true faith in Jesus? Not willfully or maliciously so, but false teachers nonetheless promoting misguided and harmful beliefs that hamper following Jesus fully.


    • I would say that the OT prophets were reported their interpretations of God’s visions and words to them. You will notice that Jesus often cuts out nationalistic and wrathful parts of those prophets’ writings when he quotes them. The prophets are still reporting God’s words from a specific agenda or perspective. The truth is still in there, though.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I can’t argue with your take on that. But neither do I understand your perspective nor you mine.
        It sounds as though you believe that God’s word contains His message, though it might not be word for word inerrant. One thing that I know for sure is that men twist His word and make it errant in many areas even when it is inerrant, and they do that even when claiming inerrancy. That would include fundamentalists and evangelicals.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. tonycutty says:

    Your attitude is admirable, and is one I am currently working on adopting for myself. And I strongly suspect that the Lord is changing me bit by bit…

    My problem with these people is that they hurt others with their attitudes; the only real redeeming factor is that most of them – *most* of them – are unaware of the error of infallibility and are hence working from a position of near-innocence as far as this doctrine goes.

    Thanks for the post – loved it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks, Tony, I think you are on target with your statement: “most of them – *most* of them – are unaware of the error of infallibility and are hence working from a position of near-innocence as far as this doctrine goes.” I agree, and I can’t beat somebody up just because I think they are mistaken about it


  11. Dennis Wade says:

    Tim, this was a very beautiful article, and a good example for all of us! Thank you for writing it!

    I’m not a Biblical scholar, so when it comes to being able to repudiate someone’s interpretation of scripture, I find myself with no real defense except to say that I don’t believe God is like that or that He would ask us to be like that. You can imagine how well that works. The first thing they do is to ask me to show them where it says that in the Bible!

    However, I do have a good understanding of, and direct experience with, God’s love, and that is what i usually fall back on.
    Lately i have often reminded them of what Paul has to say on the nature of love in
    1 Corinthians 13.
    I like how he begins with pointing out that even if we have great spiritual power, perfect understanding of scriptures and mysteries, or even perfect faith, it means nothing without love.
    Then he goes on to give a wonderful description of how a person would behave if they had this love: they would be patient and kind. They would stay calm when insulted or verbally attacked. Their ego would not cause them to take offense. They would be able to forgive. They would always seek to protect others, and would never stop believing in another’s ability to be better than what they are.
    Isn’t this exactly how Jesus was with the fundamentalists and “religious right” of his day?
    If we have this love, this is how we would be. And this is how God is, because God IS love!
    Of course, Jesus never hesitated to point out to these people how harmful and wrong their thinking was, and we shouldn’t either. But he was also always ready to talk with the ones who were willing to listen, like Nicodemus and others.

    And then Paul ends this by saying that there are three things that remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. It is a gentle reminder to us all that having perfect faith and understanding of scripture, or even perfect hope that all will be made right in the end is not as important as having love.

    A lot of scholars argue that the English word “charity” is not a good interpretation of what is meant here, and many replace it with the word “love”. But after long consideration, I think there is a lot to be said for using this word “charity”. Today, it usually means giving money to a worthy cause.
    But it used to mean a lot more. It describes an effect that love causes in our lives: it “moves” us to want to respond and be helpful to those around us who are in any kind of need. Love is an emotion: it “moves” us. It is not a passive thing. It WANTS to accept others, it WANTS to be patient and kind, it WANTS to support and forgive, and it WANTS to keep believing in others.
    And Paul points out here that this “moving love” is more important than faith or perfect scriptural understanding!
    It is a wonderful thing to point out to those who think that a perfect scriptural understanding is so important, and I think it at least gives them something that will lead them to contemplate.
    If nothing else, it helps me to not want to “throttle” them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dennis, I like the way you approached 1 Corinthians 13, “he begins with pointing out that even if we have great spiritual power, perfect understanding of scriptures and mysteries, or even perfect faith, it means nothing without love.” I am not sure I ever focused on the doctrinal aspect vs. love as you did.

      This is one of my favorite chapters, but I think it suffers from being associated so much with weddings, which I don’t think is the love Paul had in mind.

      I also like that you pointed out that, even though Jesus got on the case of some Pharisees, he took quality time to talk with Nicodemus. Later we learn that many of the Pharisees followed Jesus.

      I can see how your response from this chapter might be effective when challenged by those who ask you ‘to show them where it says that in the Bible.’


      • Dennis Wade says:

        Tim, I haven’t attended very many weddings, so I guess I’ve been fortunate in not having this passage ruined for me!
        I think it is my favorite chapter, especially because of the very “down-to-earth” description of love. There is nothing “vague” or “airy-fairy” about it.
        Paul did a great job here!

        Liked by 1 person

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  13. michaeleeast says:

    Tim, The Uniting Church in Australia uses the (old) method of “Unity In Diversity” which was first used in a Buddhist community in 600 BCE. With some success. There are Progressives and Evangelicals within the Uniting Church and we are encouraged to respect each others views.
    After the Legalization of Gay Marriage in Australia the Uniting Church decided that there were two faith statements which could coexist side-by-side: one that marriage was between a man and a woman and one that marriage was between two people. This opened the door to Gay Marriages in Uniting Churches. A creative response based on respect for each persons belief.
    I know what you mean about being abused though. The most difficult one is: “You hate God.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Michael, thanks for sharing about the Uniting Church; I was not aware of that part of it.


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