Jason just left a comment on my last post noting the connection that most folks make between inspiration and inerrancy. As I told Jason, there was a time when I made the same connection, but I don’t any more. So the question for this post is: do you think there’s a connection between inspiration and inerrancy, and if so, is it inextricable?
I’ll answer and say that I don’t think an inspired document has to be inerrant by virtue of its inspiration. Paul Seely makes this point when he says:
Many evangelicals expect biblical history to be in accord with the actual facts simply because it is inspired by God. The Scriptures teach, however, that inspiration is not the same thing as revelation, and as far as I know all evangelical theologians acknowledge this. This distinction is particularly relevant to biblical history because biblical historians never claim to have received their historical facts by revelation. Biblical history is always presented as based on human sources, not divine revelation, which is in contrast to the claims of the prophets. Biblical historians often refer to their human sources, such as the Book of Jasher (Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18) or The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel or of Judah (1 Kings 14:19, 29). Luke’s preface to his Gospel is a prime example of this (Luke 1:1–4).
Accordingly, if a human source which a biblical historian is using has a mistake in it, such as the Septuagint’s mistranslation of mtth, “bed,” in Gen. 47:31 as “staff,” we see from Heb. 11:21 that the resulting historical misrepresentation of the facts will not necessarily be corrected by the inspired writer. The idea that inspiration will correct or avoid all factual errors in a biblical historian’s sources is not taught in Scripture nor borne out by the phenomena of Scripture. (“Concordism and a Biblical Alternative: An Examination of Hugh Ross’s Perspective” PSCF 59/1 (2007): 37-45, here 42.)