Skip to main content
Select Source:

infallibility

infallibility (Ĭnfăl´əbĬl´ətē), in Christian thought, exemption from the possibility of error, bestowed on the church as a teaching authority, as a gift of the Holy Spirit. It has been believed since the earliest times to be guaranteed in such scriptural passages as John 14.16,17. The analogous attribute of the Bible is usually called inerrancy. Protestants widely reject infallibility of the church. The Orthodox Eastern Church holds that only the church, taken as an integral community and spiritual body guided by the Holy Spirit, is infallible. Roman Catholics hold that the infallibility of the church is vested in the pope, when he speaks ex cathedra (i.e., from the chair of Peter, as the visible head of the church) on matters of faith and morals. Definitive pronouncements resulting from an ecumenical council, when ratified by the pope, are also held to be infallible. The pope speaks ex cathedra only rarely and after long deliberation. The dogma of papal infallibility was enunciated by the First Vatican Council (1870).

See B. Tierney, Origins of Papal Infallibility, 1150–1350 (1972).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"infallibility." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"infallibility." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/infallibility

"infallibility." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/infallibility

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Infallibility

Infallibility. Inability to err, predicated by Roman Catholics of the Church or of some teaching office within it, e.g. the papacy or an ecumenical council, when expounding the Christian revelation. The term is a negative one, signifying preservation from error rather than inspiration, and it is predicated properly of people or institutions rather than of the statements they make.

In Islam, infallibility (Arab., ʿiṣmah) is predicated by all Muslims of the Prophet Muḥammad when mediating God's revelation (i.e. the Qurʾān), though otherwise he is an ordinary human, subject to error, etc.; by Sunni Muslims of the consensus of the community (ijmaʿ), and by Shiʿa Muslims of the Imāms.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Infallibility." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Infallibility." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/infallibility

"Infallibility." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved April 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/infallibility

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

infallibility

infallibility in the Roman Catholic Church, the doctrine (also called papal infallibility) that in specified circumstances the Pope is incapable of error in pronouncing dogma; the assertion that infallibility attached to his definitions in matters of faith and morals was made by the Vatican Council of 1870.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"infallibility." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"infallibility." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/infallibility

"infallibility." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved April 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/infallibility

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.