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Fact or Fiction?

February 12, 2010

I recently read a short article about the inerrancy of Scripture in a Christian magazine that is targeted toward young believers. The magazine is hip, trendy, and a little edgy for a Christian magazine. The writer talked about possible contradictions in the Bible and the value of the belief in the inerrancy of God’s Word. Then he asked this question:

What does it mean to confess that the Bible contains God’s truth when we are well aware there are things in the Bible it is hard for us to make sense of?

I would have to say there are some issues with his question, at least for the evangelical believer. We do not believe that the Bible contains God’s truth. We believe the Bible is completely God’s truth. That is not to say that there is no truth outside the Bible. We believe that all truth is God’s truth. He created it all. Two plus two equals four and yellow and blue make green. Neither of those truths is found directly in the Bible, yet we would readily acknowledge them as truth. He is correct and only being honest when he admits that there are things in the Bible that are hard for us to make sense of. If you deny that, you are being dishonest with yourself and with God. But just because something is difficult to make sense of does not mean it is not true. I am not an engineer or scientist or mathematician; it is difficult for me to make sense of how a nuclear reactor works. But I also know that they power homes and businesses around the world, so the fact that they work must be true, regardless of my limited understanding.

In answering the question, he made three points which, overall, I would have to agree with, (sort of, at least):

1. We are not the first to ask this question. We are not the first to grapple with this issue. Throughout the history of the Church, God’s Word has been called into question, yet it remains. That is clearly one testimony to its truth. I think it is alright to ask this question. It is part of figuring out your faith. God gave us the ability to discern, judge, and reason. I think He expects us to utilize our critical thinking skills. But I also think He wants us to accept his Word by faith.

2. We have to accept that the Bible is not what we want it to be. The writer cites the scholar N.T. Wright and tries to redefine the word “literal”.

When this became an important word in our understanding of Scripture, “literal” meant, “what the writer intended.” Wright notes that we sometimes confuse this with another definition, that is, when “literal” is understood to mean, “it happened exactly this way”. There’s an important difference between those two meanings.

But does there have to be? Could it not be that what the writer intended was that it happened exactly this way? We absolutely should read and interpret the Scriptures in their historical and grammatical context, but I think they are best understood in a plain reading of the text.

3. We have to resolve an important challenge: Doesn’t the Bible say some things that are wrong, or at least inaccurate, by the standards of history, science and normal human experience? First, you shouldn’t try to answer a question with a question. It’s really irritating. That said, I would agree that there seem to be some things that are wrong, or at least inaccurate, by the standards of history, science and normal human experience. I will illustrate this using a couple of examples the author of the article uses. There are some things in the Bible which are unbelievable, yet we are called to believe them by faith. I just read the story of the parting of the Red Sea in the book of Exodus. It is truly beyond comprehension. The only way I can believe it is that I have placed my faith in the God of the Bible. If He is true and worthy of my faith, is his word any less? Another example is the life and story of King David. The Bible makes a big deal out of David. He established the monarchy in Israel and Judah. He was in the lineage of Jesus. The Bible makes much of his legacy and his historical importance. Yet, in the larger historical and archeological community, there is little evidence of his very existence, much less the importance the Scriptures give him. King Omri (1 Kings 16) appears to have been a historical mover and shaker. There is huge archaeological evidence for him. It appears he was a major player on the world stage. But the Bible devotes about a chapter to his reign and sums it up with the word “evil”. Why the disparity? The Bible is not written from man’s perspective, but rather from God’s. In God’s economy, Omri has little importance, regardless of his role in world history. On the other hand, in spite of the apparently insignificant role of David on the larger world stage, he was a man after God’s own heart.

The article ends without making a claim for or against inerrancy. The writer thinks a better emphasis is the authority of Scripture. But I have to ask, is there any authority without inerrancy? I don’t think so. Its authority rests in its inerrancy. And it all rests in a perfect God we can place our faith and confidence in.

Where do you stand on this? Are there other examples you would offer or arguments you would make for one side or the other? Is there a middle ground? Leave your comment below.


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I recently read a short article about the inerrancy of Scripture in a Christian magazine that is targeted toward young believers. The magazine is hip, trendy, and a little edgy for a Christian magazine. The writer talked about possible contradictions in the Bible and the value of the belief in the inerrancy of God’s Word. Then he asked this question: What does it mean to confess that the Bible contains God’s truth when we are well aware there are things in the Bible it is hard for us to make sense of?

I would have to say there are some issues with his question, at least for the evangelical believer. We do not believe that the Bible contains God’s truth. We believe the Bible is completely God’s truth. That is not to say that there is no truth outside the Bible. We believe that all truth is God’s truth. He created it all. Two plus two equals four and yellow and blue make green. Neither of those truths is found directly in the Bible, yet we would readily acknowledge them as truth. He is correct and only being honest when he admits that there are things in the Bible that are hard for us to make sense of. If you deny that, you are being dishonest with yourself and with God. But just because something is difficult to make sense of does not mean it is not true. I am not an engineer or scientist or mathematician; it is difficult for me to make sense of how a nuclear reactor works. But I also know that they power homes and businesses around the world, so the fact that they work must be true, regardless of my limited understanding.

In answering the question, he made three points which, overall, I would have to agree with, (sort of, at least):

1. We are not the first to ask this question. We are not the first to grapple with this issue. Throughout the history of the Church, God’s Word has been called into question, yet it remains. That is clearly one testimony to its truth. I think it is alright to ask this question. It is part of figuring out your faith. God gave us the ability to discern, judge, and reason. I think He expects us to utilize our critical thinking skills. But I also think He wants us to accept his Word by faith.

2. We have to accept that the Bible is not what we want it to be. The writer cites the scholar N.T. Wright and tries to redefine the word “literal”.

When this became an important word in our understanding of Scripture, “literal” meant, “what the writer intended.” Wright notes that we sometimes confuse this with another definition, that is, when “literal” is understood to mean, “it happened exactly this way”. There’s an important difference between those two meanings.

But does there have to be? Could it not be that what the writer intended was that it happened exactly this way? We absolutely should read and interpret the Scriptures in their historical and grammatical context, but I think they are best understood in a plain reading of the text.

3. We have to resolve an important challenge: Doesn’t the Bible say some things that are wrong, or at least inaccurate, by the standards of history, science and normal human experience? First, you shouldn’t try to answer a question with a question. It’s really irritating. That said, I would agree that there seem to be some things that are wrong, or at least inaccurate, by the standards of history, science and normal human experience. I will illustrate this using a couple of examples the author of the article uses. There are some things in the Bible which are unbelievable, yet we are called to believe them by faith. I just read the story of the parting of the Red Sea in the book of Exodus. It is truly beyond comprehension. The only way I can believe it is that I have placed my faith in the God of the Bible. If He is true and worthy of my faith, is his word any less? Another example is the life and story of King David. The Bible makes a big deal out of David. He established the monarchy in Israel and Judah. He was in the lineage of Jesus. The Bible makes much of his legacy and his historical importance. Yet, in the larger historical and archeological community, there is little evidence of his very existence, much less the importance the Scriptures give him. King Omri (1 Kings 16) appears to have been a historical mover and shaker. There is huge archaeological evidence for him. It appears he was a major player on the world stage. But the Bible devotes about a chapter to his reign and sums it up with the word “evil”. Why the disparity? The Bible is not written from man’s perspective, but rather from God’s. In God’s economy, Omri has little importance, regardless of his role in world history. On the other hand, in spite of the apparently insignificant role of David on the larger world stage, he was a man after God’s own heart.

The article ends without making a claim for or against inerrancy. The writer thinks a better emphasis is the authority of Scripture. But I have to ask, is there any authority without inerrancy? I don’t think so. Its authority rests in its inerrancy. And it all rests in a perfect God we can place our faith and confidence in.

Where do you stand on this? Are there other examples you would offer or arguments you would make for one side or the other? Is there a middle ground? Leave your comment below.

I recently read a short article about the inerrancy of Scripture in a Christian magazine that is targeted toward young believers. The magazine is hip, trendy, and a little edgy for a Christian magazine. The writer talked about possible contradictions in the Bible and the value of the belief in the inerrancy of God’s Word. Then he asked this question: “What does it mean to confess that the Bible contains God’s truth when we are well aware there are things in the Bible it is hard for us to make sense of?”

I would have to say there are some issues with his question, at least for the evangelical believer. We do not believe that the Bible contains God’s truth. We believe the Bible is completely God’s truth. That is not to say that there is no truth outside the Bible. We believe that all truth is God’s truth. He created it all. Two plus two equals four and yellow and blue make green. Neither of those truths is found directly in the Bible, yet we would readily acknowledge them as truth. He is correct and only being honest when he admits that there are things in the Bible that are hard for us to make sense of. If you deny that, you are being dishonest with yourself and with God. But just because something is difficult to make sense of does not mean it is not true. I am not an engineer or scientist or mathematician; it is difficult for me to make sense of how a nuclear reactor works. But I also know that they power homes and businesses around the world, so the fact that they work must be true, regardless of my limited understanding.

In answering the question, he made three points which, overall, I would have to agree with, (sort of, at least):

1. We are not the first to ask this question. We are not the first to grapple with this issue. Throughout the history of the Church, God’s Word has been called into question, yet it remains. That is clearly one testimony to its truth. I think it is alright to ask this question. It is part of figuring out your faith. God gave us the ability to discern, judge, and reason. I think He expects us to utilize our critical thinking skills. But I also think He wants us to accept his Word by faith.

2. We have to accept that the Bible is not what we want it to be. The writer cites the scholar N.T. Wright and tries to redefine the word “literal”. “When this became an important word in our understanding of Scripture, ‘literal’ meant, ‘what the writer intended.’ Wright notes that we sometimes confuse this with another definition, that is, when ‘literal’ is understood to mean, ‘it happened exactly this way’. There’s an important difference between those two meanings.” But does there have to be? Could it not be that what the writer intended was that it happened exactly this way? We absolutely should read and interpret the Scriptures in their historical and grammatical context, but I think they are best understood in a plain reading of the text.

3. We have to resolve an important challenge: Doesn’t the Bible say some things that are wrong, or at least inaccurate, by the standards of history, science and normal human experience? First, you shouldn’t try to answer a question with a question. It’s really irritating. That said, I would agree that there seem to be some things that are wrong, or at least inaccurate, by the standards of history, science and normal human experience. I will illustrate this using a couple of examples the author of the article uses. There are some things in the Bible which are unbelievable, yet we are called to believe them by faith. I just read the story of the parting of the Red Sea in the book of Exodus. It is truly beyond comprehension. The only way I can believe it is that I have placed my faith in the God of the Bible. If He is true and worthy of my faith, is his word any less? Another example is the life and story of King David. The Bible makes a big deal out of David. He established the monarchy in Israel and Judah. He was in the lineage of Jesus. The Bible makes much of his legacy and his historical importance. Yet, in the larger historical and archeological community, there is little evidence of his very existence, much less the importance the Scriptures give him. King Omri (1 Kings 16) appears to have been a historical mover and shaker. There is huge archaeological evidence for him. It appears he was a major player on the world stage. But the Bible devotes about a chapter to his reign and sums it up with the word “evil”. Why the disparity? The Bible is not written from man’s perspective, but rather from God’s. In God’s economy, Omri has little importance, regardless of his role in world history. On the other hand, in spite of the apparently insignificant role of David on the larger world stage, he was a man after God’s own heart.

The article ends without making a claim for or against inerrancy. The writer thinks a better emphasis is the authority of Scripture. But I have to ask, is there any authority without inerrancy? I don’t think so. Its authority rests in its inerrancy. And it all rests in a perfect God we can place our faith and confidence in.

Where do you stand on this? Are there other examples you would offer or arguments you would make for one side or the other? Is there a middle ground? Leave your comment below.

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3 Comments
  1. Wow. I would have to go with your statement, “I would have to say there are some issues with his question, at least for the evangelical believer. We do not believe that the Bible contains God’s truth. We believe the Bible is completely God’s truth.”
    It seems that this writer could be blurring the lines for some younger, less mature readers of this article.

    • wjcollier3 permalink

      Lisa, thanks for the comment. Do you think my answers would be appropriate to correct his statement, or are there other thoughts you would add?

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