The logic of some still insists that anything involving humanity has to allow for the possibility of sin. So, they say, as long as the Bible is both a divine and a human book the possibility and actuality of errors exist.
Let us examine that premise. Is it always inevitable that sin is involved where humanity is?
If you were tempted to respond affirmatively, an exception probably came to mind almost immediately. The title of this chapter put the clue in your mind. The exception is our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the God—man, and yet His humanity did not involve sin. He serves as a clear example of an exception to the logic pressed by people who believe in errancy.
The true doctrine of the God—man states that He possessed the full and perfect divine nature and a perfect human nature, and that those were united, in one person forever. His deity was not in any detail diminished; His humanity was not in any way unreal, though sinless; and in His one person His natures were without mixture, change, division, or separation.
Similarly, the Bible is a divine—human book. Though it originated from God, it was actually written by man. It is God’s Word, conveyed through the Holy Spirit. Sinful men wrote that Word, but did so without error. Just as, in the incarnation, Christ took humanity but was not tainted in any way with sin, so the production of the Bible was not tainted with any errors.
Let us take the analogy further. In the humanity of Jesus Christ there were some features that were not optional. He had to be a Jew. He could not have been a Gentile. He had to be a man, not a woman. He had to be sinless, not sinful. But there were some features of sinless humanity that might be termed optional. Jesus could have possessed perfect humanity within a variation of a few inches in height at maturity. A dwarf or a giant would have been imperfect. He might have varied a little in weight at maturity and still have been perfect. Surely the number of hairs on his scalp, within limits, could have been a sinless option. However, it was the humanity that He exhibited that was, in fact, perfect humanity.
The writers of the Bible were not passive. They wrote as borne along by the Spirit, and in those writings there were some things that could not have been said any other way. Paul insisted on the singular rather than the plural in Galatians 3:16. But there were, conceivably, some sinless options as in Paul’s emotional statement in Romans 9:1-3. Yet the Bible we have is in fact the perfect record of God’s message to us.
Everybody wrestles with the relationship between the divine and the human authors of Scriptures. The divine must not be so emphasized as to obliterate for all practical purposes the human; and the human must not be allowed to be so human as to permit errors in the text. God did dictate the law (Deuteronomy 9:10). On the other end of the divine—human involvement scale, Dr. Luke researched his material (Luke 1:1-4). Paul expressed himself freely (Romans 9:1-3), and he expressed himself rigidly (Galatians 3:16); but everywhere he wrote accurately what God wanted us to have.
A similar thing happened with regard to the person of Christ in the early centuries of church history. Docetism, a first—century heresy, taught that Christ did not actually become flesh but only appeared as a man, thus robbing Him of genuine humanity. Docetism was, of course, a Christological error, but one can see the analogy with the question of the dual authorship of the Bible. Those who hold to errors in the Bible say that inerrancy overemphasizes the divine authorship to the neglect of its “humanness.” Thus God’s superintendence of the Bible to the extent of producing an errorless Bible is said to be a Docetic view of inspiration. Karl Barth has made that charge, and so, more recently, have Dutch theologian Gerrit Berkhouwer and Fuller professor Paul Jewett.
But if it were true (which it is not) that those who hold to the total inerrancy of the Bible are espousing a heresy akin to Docetism, then it would be equally true that those who hold to any kind of errancy support a doctrine analogous to Ebionitism.
In the second century the Ebionites denied the deity of Christ by denying His virgin birth and His preexistence. They regarded Jesus as the natural son of Joseph and Mary, who was elected Son of God at His baptism, but not as the eternal Son of God. They thought Jesus was a great prophet and higher than the archangels, but not divine.
Now if inerrancy is supposed to be a Doceticlike heresy, then errancy, albeit limited, is obviously an Ebionitelike heresy, since the humanity of the Bible has to permit errors in the Bible. According to the errancy view, inasmuch as real men were involved, their writings cannot be guaranteed to be without error even though the Holy Spirit directed and inspired them. That is an Ebionitelike error.
But remember, there is an orthodox doctrine of the person of Christ, and there is an orthodox doctrine of the Bible. Both involve God and man, and both result in a sinless product.
Ryrie, C. C. (1998, c1981). What you should know about Inerrancy.