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The term Biblical infallibility is used in at least two distinct ways.

  • In some circles, it is a theological term to describe the belief that the Bible is free from errors on issues of faith and practice, while minor possible contradictions in history (or geography, science etc.) can be overlooked as insignificant to its spiritual purpose. This stance is also known as Limited Inerrancy,[1] in contrast to Biblical inerrancy, which is the belief that the Bible is free from all errors, not only in spiritual areas, but in the natural as well.[2]
  • Other people use the term to refer to the doctrine that the Bible cannot "fail", or mislead. In this sense it is seen as distinct from Biblical Inerrancy, but always accompanying it. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy uses the term in this sense, saying, "Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished but not separated."[3]

Second Vatican Council

There was a controversy during the Second Vatican Council on whether the Roman Catholic Church taught infallibility or inerrancy. Some have interpreted Dei Verbum as teaching the infallibility position, while others note that the conciliar document often quotes previous documents such as Providentissimus Deus and Divino Afflante Spiritu that clearly teach inerrancy. [4]


  1. Coleman (1975). "Biblical Inerrancy: Are We Going Anywhere?". Theology Today Volume 31, No. 4. 
  2. Geisler & Nix (1986). A General Introduction to the Bible. Moody Press, Chicago. ISBN ISBN 0-8024-2916-5. 
  3. Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Article XI
  4. "Rome's Battle for the Bible", Christianity Today, October 20, 2008