In many religious circles great importance is attached to the concept of the inerrancy of the scriptures. Some would perhaps qualify their understanding of inerrancy by saying that the scriptures were inerrant in their original manuscripts. This hedge makes the concept much less meaningful, since no one has access to an original and most could not read them in the original languages if they did.
Naturally, evangelical Christians, those who believe in a God given mandate to convert the world, must have an essentially correct Bible, because the right message is a prerequisite to conversion. If errors in the originals, in the canonization process, or in subsequent translations are admitted, then the entire process becomes suspect. This, of course, is a conundrum. The right message is required to respond to God’s instructions, but that message has been disseminated by a process which is clouded in ancient history and subject to numerous unknown human influences.
Of course, one can assume that God has providentially guided all these dissemination processes just as he did the inspiration of the originals, but the Bible itself is silent on this point. There is no biblical evidence that the bible message was ever meant to be applicable as instructions to other than those to whom it was originally addressed.
If the original recipients of the scriptural message were the only intended recipients, then all the subsequent dissemination processes become insignificant, and the lack of proof that God has guided us to an inerrant scripture today is no longer a real problem. This is the only conclusion that makes any sense. If the true message is the means to God’s salvation, then God’s process for proclaiming that message has to be fool-proof. It can’t logically depend on all the many human sponsored steps required to collect, translate, and then distribute that message. Such a process would inevitably lead to just what we have experienced in the 2000 years since Christ, mass confusion and an alienated audience.