All the Gospels are talking about events that actually happened; they are not “making it up. ” But they are telling about the events in ways that help us to grasp their significance and their theological implications. We do not need to feel as if we have to “roll back” the significance and the implications in order to get to “bare” events. The Gospels, since they are written with God’s authority, deserve our ultimate allegiance and trust. They are therefore more ultimate and more reliable accounts of the events of the life of Christ than is any humanly constructed harmonization, which would try to figure out “what really happened. ” It is legitimate for us to try to see how the various Gospel accounts fit together into a larger picture. But this larger picture should include everything that the Gospels give us, rather than only a minimum core in the form of our modern human reconstruction of what happened. Human reconstructions can help, but when reconstructions of the events go into all the details, they often contain a certain amount of guesswork. The guesswork means that our own fallibility and the incompleteness of our information come into play. If we are honest, we have to admit that we cannot be sure about everything in our reconstruction. By contrast, we can be sure about the Gospels themselves.
Vern Poythress, Inerrancy and the Gospels: A God-Centered Approach to the Challenges of Harmonization, 32.