This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

What’s infallible?

Several letters in the March 18 issue lament Mennonite Church USA’s loss of a “biblical gospel.” Two writers left the church because the 1995 Confession of Faith doesn’t call the Bible “infallible.”

If “infallible” means “without error,” I have a few questions. Which Bible are they talking about? An English-language Bible like the KJV, New KJV, NIV or NRSV? Or do they mean the original Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament?

My NRSV Old Testament contains various footnotes that say, “meaning of Hebrew uncertain.” And my Greek New Testament has many footnotes that show two or three options for an unclear Greek word or phrase.

The New Testament writers used the Septuagint (the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek) because they did not know Hebrew. Can we trust the Septuagint to be infallible?

Or are these letter writers referring to the “original autographs” of every biblical book as it was first written down? Yet no original manuscripts exist, only copies of copies of copies.

What do we do when the Gos­pels do not agree on every detail? Jesus had a three-year ministry in John, but Matthew, Mark and Luke collapse it into one year. How can Jesus ascend to heaven from Bethany near Jerusalem in Luke 24:50-53 and from a mountain in Galilee in Matt. 28:16?

Scholars have done their best to copy and translate accurately. Is it not more honest to use the words “trustworthy” and “authoritative” to describe our Bible rather than the inaccurate and misleading “infallible”?

Reta Halteman Finger
Harrisonburg, Va.

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