Do you have to believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God to be saved?
In a very general way, I think I can say that one could come to faith in Christ for salvation without believing in the inerrancy of the Word of God, but I am doubtful that one could stay that way for long. The disciples of our Lord did not understand most of what Jesus taught them initially (until after His resurrection — John 14:25-26; 16:12-13, etc.), but they certainly came to trust in His every Word. They came to fully believe that Jesus “had the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). They believed that Jesus was the full and final Word of God, who was the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:1-3). His words were the final word, that men dare not neglect (Hebrews 2:1-3). If He was the Son of God as He claimed, how could any of His words not be true? If we cannot trust in His every word, then which of His words do we trust?
Now, what did our Lord have to say about “creation”? In Matthew 19:3-6 Jesus spoke to the issue of divorce by going back “to the beginning,” and this beginning is the creation account. Was Jesus wrong to think that Adam and Eve were real people, whom God had created? If so, then we must cast aside every word of His as unreliable. Jesus also referred to Sodom, and to Jonah, who was swallowed up by the fish and then returned to life, as well as to the days of Noah and the flood (Matthew 11:24; 12:39-41; 24:37-39). Was He wrong about these people? Were they part of another myth? If Jesus was wrong — the One who claimed to be “the Truth”, then how can He be “the Way,” and “the Life” (John 14:6)?
The Gospel hangs on the truth of the creation account. Paul says that man’s sinfulness can be traced back to the sin of one man, Adam. He argues that it was the sin of one man that corrupted the human race, and that it is by the righteousness of one man — Jesus Christ — that many can be saved from their sins (Romans 5:12-21). Cast out the creation as a myth and you cast out the gospel, as I see it.
This is not the only time Paul speaks of the creation, and of the fall. See also 1 Corinthians 11:8-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13-15. The creation account is a crucial truth. And, we are clearly told, it is something we believe by faith (Hebrews 11:3).
Notice what the Bible makes of the creation account in these verses:
Genesis 1-2; 14:19-22; 15:4-6; 24:2-4
Exodus 20:8-11; 31:12-17
Deuteronomy 10:12-18; 11:11-17; 28:12, 23-24
2 Samuel 22:6-18
2 Kings 19:14-19
1 Chronicles 16:26
Psalm 8; 19:1-6; 33:6-9; 89:11-12; 96:5; 102:23-28; 104:1-35;
107:23-31 (compare verse 29 with Matthew 8:26)
Psalm 121; 124:8; 134:3; 135:5-7; 136:1-9; 146:1-7; 147:7-9
Proverbs 3:19-20; 8:22-31; 30:1-4
Isaiah 37:14-20; 40:12-31; 42:5-9; 44:24-28; 45:8-12, 18; 48:12-16;
Jeremiah 4:23-28;* 10:6-16; 32:16-19; 51:14-17
Acts 4:24; 14:14-18; 17:24
1 Corinthians 8:4-6
Hebrews 1:10; 11:3
Revelation 4:11; 10:6; 14:7
Our Lord’s words are not only “the words of eternal life” (salvation), but the words by which we are sanctified (John 17:17). How can we be sanctified by an imperfect Word of God?
The psalmist surely looked at the Word of God (the Old Testament law, at this point) as the truth (Psalm 119). We are warned not to go beyond the Word, to embellish or to add to or take away from it (1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:1-2; Revelation 22:19).
I think the Psalmist put is most plainly:
The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times (Psalm 12:6).
I have been teaching the Word of God for about 30 years, and I’ve yet to find a text that failed the test of Psalm 12:6.