One reason I disagree with this view is that if it were true, it would be impossible to distinguish between the details that the human author intended to communicate accurately (their actual truth claims), and those details with which the authors exercised artistic license. Thus we are not sure what to believe. Another reason I reject this view is that it creates a slippery slope past the line of truth (truth defined as those statements that correspond to reality). Once we cross that line by doubting this or that assertion in Scripture, I don’t see other stopping points that will keep us from sliding further away from the teachings of the Bible.
The greatest reason I reject this approach is that it makes God out to be dishonest. If the Bible really is the Word of God, then anytime we suggest that there are assertions in Scripture that don’t accurately represent reality (that are communicated as facts by the author), then the implication is that God is guilty of knowingly making statements that are factually untrue. But Titus 1:2 says that God cannot lie. So we believe that the Bible will always pass the test of truth.
This test of truth inquires whether or not a biblical author’s claims match reality. The test first asks, “Does God (and the human author) intend through this statement to make a claim about reality?” Then it asks, “If so, does this intended communication match reality?” Those who believe that the Bible is God-breathed should always answer, “Yes” to that second question because if the Bible is God-breathed, every claim about reality in the original text of Scripture is true, and nothing will ever be shown to be false when properly interpreted.
For example, if the Gospel of John refers to two angels sitting in the tomb of Jesus after the resurrection (John 20:12), and the Gospel of Mark speaks of one angel sitting in the tomb (Mark 16:5), we should assume that John is right and that Mark is also right, even if we can’t understand how they can be reconciled. (In this case, it’s easy since Mark doesn’t say there was only one. We can assume that there were actually two but Mark was only concerned about pointing out one). How some alleged contradictions are both (or all) right we may never know, but it is safe to say that since all accounts are inspired by God and thus wholly true, attempting to harmonize the texts will normally get us closer to an accurate understanding of what happened than not attempting to harmonize the text. This is similar to the fact that a detective will likely come closer to figuring out what happened at a crime scene if he examines reports from a variety of reliable witnesses, and tries to piece the incident together.
We should not try to solve supposed contradictions by saying that the gospels were not meant to be historical on the level of precise detail. Even if the writing standards of that day allowed for the making up of details to fit the purposes of an author, both the internal and external evidence of the Gospels point to a concern for careful accuracy. The author Luke told Theophilus that he (Luke) had a “perfect understanding” of what he was writing about, and he wanted Theophilus to know “the certainty” of what happened (Luke 1:1-4). He mentioned eyewitnesses as his sources. Looking at the rest of the gospel, we can see that Luke dated events by known historical figures, such as Caesar Augustus and Cyrenius. The famous archaeologist Sir William Ramsay said, “Luke's history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness” Luke appears to have had a concern for “precise detail.”
External evidence for the historicity of the details of the gospels also includes Papias (contemporary of Apostle John), saying, “The Elder used to say this also: ‘Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately all that he mentioned, whether sayings or doings of Christ; not, however, in order….Thus Mark committed no error in thus writing down some things as he remembered them. For he took heed to one thing: not to omit any of the things he had heard, or to set down anything falsely therein.” So here is evidence attesting to the full accuracy of Mark’s gospel, with an acknowledgement that it wasn’t necessarily presented in chronological order. We know that presenting events in history out of order wouldn’t entail factual error unless the author made a point of saying that one event came before another when the opposite was true.
Beyond these examples of internal and external evidence, we must return to the fact that these gospels are God-breathed. How could the “God of truth,” whose “Word is pure,” contaminate his Word with claims about reality that are not in some sense true (corresponding to reality)?
If the Bible is verbally inspired (God-breathed down to the very words), then there will be nothing in Scripture that is not true, when properly understood, even when written by men with limited, and even erroneous views of the world. I am speaking of not just the "main points," but also "incidentals" or "minor details." We all agree that God is powerful enough to keep the Bible writers from crossing over the line from the true to the false. If everything in Scripture really is the Word of God, then that is what He did-- He kept them from claiming anything contrary to the way things really are. As evangelicals who profess to believe that the Bible is without error, we should be careful to resist the temptation to qualify inerrancy in ways that in the end denies the very thing we are trying to defend.