Is The Bible Completely Error Free?
Do you believe as the fundamentalist -- the entire Bible is ordained by God and as such has no error, no contradiction, no confusion and is complete and absolute truth?
The question you ask touches on a lot of issues, so I'll try to be as thorough as possible. First, let me say that a fundamentalist -in the strictest sense of the word- believes in the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. The fundamentalist movement came about as a response to the criticism being lobbed at the faith in the 19th century. The term nowadays, however, holds some connotations that aren't necessarily accurate. So, while I do hold to the fundamental tenets of the faith, I wouldn't characterize myself as a fundamentalist.
As to the Bible and if it is "ordained by God," we must take a look at what it claims to be, and what being ordained means. The Bible explicitly makes the claim of being the "inspired word of God". 2 Timothy 3:16 states "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." The word "inspired" in the original Greek is theopneustos. This doesn't mean that it is beautiful, or inspiring (like a Beethoven symphony), but literally "God-breathed"... directly from the mouth of God. Now, if the Bible claims that all scripture is inspired, it leaves us with only two choices... we believe that to be true or false. Whether what we recognize as the Bible is what the writer had in mind when he said "all scripture" is a different question. We must first accept or reject the declaration.
If we reject the claim, or if we believe that only some of the Bible is inspired (i.e., the Bible contains the word of God), then that premise raises several difficult questions:
1) If the Bible only contains the word of God, then is God not powerful enough to communicate His message clearly?
2) Who is to judge, and by what criteria does one tell which parts of a passage or manuscript are inspired and which are not? Who has the wisdom of God to know what God has said and what man has said?
The Bible also claims to be inerrant, which means it is without error (John 17:17). This is the natural conclusion from being fully inspired, for God cannot lie, and a document that contains mistakes cannot be viewed seriously as originating from the all-knowing God.
The Christian faith holds that the original documents of scripture are error-free. If they are not, the same problems arise as noted above. One can quickly see that if we do not hold all of Scripture as inspired and inerrant, then the entire Bible must be held in doubt and one could not base an intelligent faith upon those documents. How would you know if a major tenant of your faith (such as the deity of Christ) is not built upon a faulty passage?
Now, this leaves us the question of which books of the Bible are meant by "all scripture". In the New Testament there are fifty-one uses of the word "scripture", and always referring to some part of the Bible. Most of the time, the term Scripture is applied to a quotation to the Old Testament. Indeed, the Old Testament had been clearly established in Christ's time. Jesus Himself makes explicit reference to it in Luke 11:51 ("from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.." the first and last martyr in the Hebrew order of the Old Testament).
The New Testament also has the term "scripture" applied to it as well. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter says that Paul's writings are scripture. Paul quotes from Luke in 1 Timothy 5:18 and calls it scripture. In fact, Paul took the passage of Luke and put it on par with the Torah! For a Jew, this is the pinnacle of inspired writings. All New testament books are written by eyewitnesses or those who interviewed eyewitnesses and were recognized by the early church as being scripture.
So, we have sixty-six books of the Bible that were recognized as being "God-breathed", and that must include them being error-free. Someone may have confusion in understanding a specific passage and its original intent, but the fault does not lie with the documents, but the interpretation the reader may be trying to extrapolate from it. Also, there are places where a seeming contradiction may surface, but if careful study is undertaken, most of these can be easily reconciled. Because we have a document that is error-free and isn't contradictory, we can confidently base our faith upon it. Otherwise we would just be another belief system with no more merit than any other.
I hope this has helped you. I just briefly touched on a lot of heavy subjects, and if I've left you with any questions, please feel fee to write again.