So we have very secure solid foundations for our faith - or at least so some Christians hope!
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error "when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church".
This doctrine was defined dogmatically in the First Vatican Council of 1869–1870, but had been defended before that, appearing already in medieval tradition and becoming the majority opinion at the time of the Counter-Reformation.
The Catechism now states that "the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."
There was a controversy during the Council on whether the Roman Catholic Church taught biblical infallibility or biblical 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.
Dei Verbum has sometimes been compared to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which expounds similar teachings, characteristic of many evangelical Protestants.
1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God's witness to Himself.
2. Holy Scripture, being God's own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God's instruction, in all that it affirms, obeyed, as God's command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God's pledge, in all that it promises.
3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture's divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible's own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
The Chicago Statement on Biblical inerrancy
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was formulated in October 1978 by more than 200 evangelical leaders at a conference sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI), held in Chicago. The statement was designed to defend the position of Biblical inerrancy against a perceived trend toward liberal conceptions of Scripture. The undersigners came from a variety of evangelical Christian denominations, and include James Montgomery Boice, Carl F. H. Henry, Kenneth Kantzer, J. I. Packer, Francis Schaeffer, and R. C. Sproul.
Leading inerrantists regard the Chicago Statement as a very thorough statement of what they mean by "inerrancy". The statement elaborates on various details in Articles formed as couplets of "WE AFFIRM ..." and "WE DENY ...". Under the statement inerrancy applies only to the original manuscripts (which no longer exist, but can be inferred on the basis of extant copies), not to the copies or translations themselves. In the statement, inerrancy does not refer to a blind literal interpretation, but allows for figurative, poetic and phenomenological language, so long as it was the author's intent to present a passage as literal or symbolic.
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy has been compared to the Vatican Council Decree Dei Verbum, which expounds similar teachings for Roman Catholics