The Errors In Scripture

A Principle of Imperfection

explained by Don R. Hender

    The 'infallibility of scripture', particularly the Bible, comes down to a question of 'errors' in scriptural writings. Some teach the 'absolute infallibility' of scripture, the Bible, and others hedge the position by such a statement as, "Bible infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is wholly useful and true." It is the "belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose." This second type of statement of having a 'belief' in the 'infallibility of scripture' in its ability to achieve its purpose relative to salvation leaves quite a bit of wiggle room to allow errors to creep in as long as it does not affect the truth of matters regarding faith and Christian practice or the generally correct guide to salvation, which scripture, the Bible, as the word of God is to accomplish.

And thus there comes a range, a rather wide range, relative to 'scriptural or Biblical infallibility' which ranges from those who insist that 'infallibility' is to be defined in terms of the stronger concept of "inerrancy" in that 'inerrant' means there are no errors; and thus 'infallible' means there can be no errors, that is there are no errors in the Bible or scripture of any kind. This type of absolute 'inerrancy' is easily to be commonly disproved by men of reason, logic and understanding. But to the hard core that preaches that the Bible is the absolute word of God and there is no need for any further 'Bible' or scripture, it often become that degree of absolute infallibility and 'total self-contained completeness' or 'Closed Canon', which they base their premise that the Bible stands as a sealed and absolute 'canon' of God's word to man, and there is not, nor there cannot be any further scripture [Bible] beyond the officially canonized Bible record. That is the absolute 'Word of God' it is fully contained in the Bible and nothing but the Bible, and there cannot be any further 'Bible' or Word of God revealed to man. Essentially it denies God the ability to further communicate with man, thus limiting God to only being able to communicate with man through the Bible record alone.

This totally 'infallibility' of absolute 'inerrancy' is of course the one extreme position, which tends to have countless in-creeping positions of 'exception' back to the first more general position that basically presents that the Bible is basically the true word of God, which allows for some weaknesses in the text presentation but without actually compromising the overall intended purpose of true in matters of faith and Christian practice, and in it being a guide [often 'THE' guide] to salvation which will not fail to accomplish its trustworthy purpose. And such statements as 'the sun stood still' IS NOT to be a matter of concern as to it being a statement of 'true science', as such IS NOT a matter of having faith in God and Christian practice leading to the accomplishment of obtaining men's salvation.

With this presented, let us move on to perhaps another manner of viewing the whole of the matter, which in fact may boil down to a 'parallel' perspective actually stated slightly differently. We begin with the concept of the availability and possible attainment of the perfection of men. After all the scriptural records have been written, edited and maintained by the workings of the hands of men all along over its full term of existence.

The Infallibility and Inerrancy of the Matters of Man

    "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." ~ John 1:10(8-10)

There is a parallel principle of man's imperfection, which not only applies to man's personal life of imperfection and his absolute need for repentance and the workings of the atonement of Jesus Christ in his life, but also in man's handling, maintaining and preparing of God's Word, that is, the scriptural texts which God has commanded men to keep. For as man is not perfect, yet he is but to seek after God and God's perfection. And so it is that those scriptural accounts so kept by the hand of man are of a degree flawed, not by the Word of God, which they contain, but by the preparations of them by, for the most part, honest men doing the best they can, but who are subject to the weaknesses and imperfections of the flesh. As would Paul have so stated, 'oh wretched man that I am.' And Paul was himself a perfectionist.

This brings us to a 'perspective parallel' of statement concerning the 'infallibility' of Scripture, that is God's Word, which like the opening statement of preserved assurance of the ultimate truth of God's word, does address that which from a Book of Mormon perspective also preserve God's scriptural truth, faith, Christian practice, and purpose of means unto salvation; keeping it in tact in a scriptural context wherein the scriptures have been maintained and handled by the hands of men. It states it thus:

    "And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ." ~ Title Page of the Book of Mormon as so translated from the golden plates of that ancient scriptural record.

Joseph Smith, the prophet, has stated that in terms of true Gospel Principles, the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, not excepting even the Bible. Some have attempted to view Joseph Smith's statement as being a declaration of the 'infallible' - 'inerrancy' of the Mormon scripture similarly as to that strong Biblical text stated position of the Bible being absolutely 'infallible' and 'inerrant', that is without any error of any kind. In the course of human frailty, both the Bible and Book of Mormon can be easily proven to actually contain 'errors'.

A History of Errors in Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon

Now these 'scriptural errors' in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon do run the gamut from simple spelling and grammatical errors to actual errors of human perspective, interpretation, transcription and so forth. There are over some 60,000 such 'errors' which have been accounted in such as the King James Version of the Bible alone. And from whose ever perspective one wishes to support, in every 'new version and edition' and intended improvement, there lies any number of additional 'changes' and the seeds of additional errors of misunderstanding and personal interpretation.

And of course the Book of Mormon has its own accumulating assortment of such to number some 5,000 or so of its own collection as well. And sadly many a declared good Christian who accepts, justifies and tolerates many of the same type of 'errors/changes' in the Bible, are but all too quick to judge and criticize such as are to be found in the Book of Mormon.

Now I've known the Book of Mormon to be the true Word of God from a young age, as my parents had us read the Book of Mormon stories and taught them to us. From the unmistakable conviction of a mother's word to her son, I've known the Book of Mormon to be true. And over the years, that fundamental trust in a parent's word to their child has forever been growing and has not been disproved despite those of the world who have and would so preach and teach against it. Brain washed? No! Blessed, in having the seeds of truth planted by goodly parents from the ages of youth to be built upon, YES!

And when it came time for me to serve my church according to my own desires to serve a mission and preach the Word of God to the world, I had a firm 'belief' in the principles of the church and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as well as of the Bible. And I believed my Bible stories of Adam and Eve, of Noah and the great flood, Moses and the Children of Israel, the walls of Jericho tumbling down, Jonah and the great whale, Daniel and the Lion's den, Joseph being sold into Egypt and so forth and so on. And then also my faith and belief in the Book of Mormon stories as well. With all of my readings and studying of these the Lord's scriptures, that very strong testimony of their truth has been instilled in my heart and my soul from simple childhood belief to the very strong witnesses received by and through the very Spirit of God.

And yet, perhaps up until about a decade or so ago, I found myself consistently defending my belief in God's scriptures, proving them to not only those who would criticize such a belief in God, but each time also consistently proving them again over and over again to myself. And this until one day I came to ask myself, 'Is not the scriptures of God of an absolute truth?' 'And then why is it that as an 'apologist' do I continue to 'prove' them to myself when I know them to be true! And that is when a change in my perspective came. No longer did the questions challenging of the scriptures and their truthfulness need bother me at all. I knew them to be true and God's work and word without any room for those questions needing apologetic defense. If the science of man has not grown up enough to come to understand the truth of God's word, then it was science which was lacking in understanding and discovery, not God's word. And if there seemed to be perspectives of men written into the scriptures, which were inconsistent, such as the sun standing still when common sense would yield that it was in fact the earth which had so moved and not the sun, then so be it. It was not an error of God, but that of man's weakness in his preparation and understanding of the word of God.

And another newly agreeable facet has come with my new full unquestioning of acceptance of the scriptures of God. I have now found that according to such as Moroni's warning and counsel that 'if there are faults [to be found in our scriptural preparations] they are the mistakes of men, wherefore, [I accordingly] condemn not the things of God,' which indeed the scriptures of our God do contain. And with that perspective of total acceptance of God's scriptures, even those 'errors' or 'mistakes' which I know have been found but now only work to further strengthen my full acceptance and testimony of the truthfulness of God's Scriptural Word.

And it is to this end that I desire to share a hand full of actual 'errors' which I have found to exist in our scriptures today, particularly in the Book of Mormon, as that is where Moroni so declared his precautionary word in respect to. And not only to identify a few of these mistakes of men but to reason them out as to how they are but the result of the faults and imperfections of men and not due in any way to the truth and Gospel of God.

Here are but a half dozen items which have been seen as Book of Mormon errors. Now knowing the Book of Mormon to be absolutely true without question, how does one, so converted to the book, come to perceive these matters? The answers may be surprising when one talks about the perspective of 'critical error' and places such items in the scope of understanding the absolute truth of the Book of Mormon as the Word of God kept by men, that is men who themselves are subject to err where God is not.

Rev. 14 September 2014