Believing The Whole Bible Is True


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I understand why atheists have trouble with the Bible. To be honest, it’s not an easy book. Some passages have led people to believe that God has handpicked who will be a Christian while other verses make it clear that His offer of salvation is open to the world. So which is it? Or can we chalk up these contradictions to the fact that the Bible isn’t reliable.

There are other issues—people use verses from 1 John to “prove” that Christians don’t sin (“No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him” 1 John 3:6) whereas James tells the brethren that they are to confess their sins to one another. Peter tells Christians they are blessed if they suffer according to God’s will, but John wishes for his friend Gaius health and prosperity. The Old Testament is full of God’s judgment on Israel’s enemies (and on Israel), but Jesus commanded us to love our enemies.

Along with the apparent internal problems, there’s also the matter about the Bible and science. Many people look at the data scientists put out about the origin of the universe and compare that with what the Bible says—creation, spoken into being, in six days. Then there are the problems of miracles—seas parting, a donkey that talked, water pouring from a rock, the dead raised to life, a few loaves and fishes feeding thousands and thousands of people, blind men able to see, and a virgin birthing a Son. In other words, the Bible claims impossible things happened.

So there are apparent internal contradictions and apparent contradictions with reality as we know it. How then are we to handle the Bible?

It seems to me we have three positions we can take:
1) we can throw out the whole Bible as unreliable
2) we can pick and choose which verses we want to believe
3) we can believe the whole Bible is true, even the parts that seem impossible to resolve with one another or with history or science

People unwilling to accept the challenge of the Bible will be most tempted to opt for the “throw the whole thing out” option. I mean, why look deeper when on the surface the contradictions are so apparent? Why strive to resolve something that looks irresolvable?

In some ways that’s like saying let’s throw out all fruit because I can’t resolve how an avocado is like a watermelon or how a tomato is like a grape. Or, let’s take a couple fruit that everyone knows are fruit. How can we say a peach is like a banana? “There’s no such thing as fruit,” someone might say. “They are all contradictory. You can’s say they have anything in common.”

Except, of course they do—it’s just not readily apparent. You have to think about it, have the definition of fruit explained. So, too, with the Bible.

The second position—the potluck approach—might appeal to those who think faith is a good idea or who think god is a good idea. Their tendency, then, is to construct their faith and their god in the image of their own desires: Peace would be good for mankind, so my god will be for peace. I want a god of love, so all the information about god loving the world can stay but all the verses about wrath and vengeance have to go.

I’ve painted that position in a rather simplistic way. I doubt few people would admit they are shaping god to be what they want him to be. They can give all kinds of reasons from higher criticism for dismissing certain passages of Scripture, or explain how understanding stories as myth can symbolically represent the truth, or whatever other academic gymnastics they wish to employ. The truth is, they have chosen something else to believe as a higher authority than the Bible.

For those ignoring passages that seem contradictory to other passages in order to support a particular theological position, ultimately the person is choosing which they wish to believe, since both are in the Bible. They can’t say one is less Scriptural than the other. They can only try to explain away the verses that stand against their chosen position.

The third choice, accepting the entire Bible, isn’t as satisfactory as the other two positions because there may always be unanswered questions. However, the goal is to let the Bible interpret the Bible. This approach means the Bible is the focus of constant study. For example, to understand Jesus, we have to understand the prophecies He quoted and fulfilled.

We may even have to live with tension between two seemingly impossible truths, much as Abraham did when God promised He’d make a great nation from his descendant—his one descendant, Isaac—and told him to offer that very boy as a sacrifice. How could God’s statements both be true?

Abraham didn’t debate the issue. He simply believed. In his mind, Scripture tells us, he arrived at the idea that God would raise the boy back to life. He knew God was capable of doing the impossible, so he simply believed.

As it turned out, God’s way of resolving the apparent conflict was much simpler, though not any less miraculous. He provided a ram for Abraham to use, a substitution that would become the picture of His own substitution on our behalf thousands of years later when Jesus gave His life to redeem all who believe in Him.

Believing the Bible even though I may not understand how all the apparent internal and external contradictions resolve isn’t really that hard. I don’t understand how the internet works, but that doesn’t keep me from using it. I only have a vague notion how my car works, but that doesn’t keep me from driving it. Why would I think it necessary to understand all the difficult parts about God and about His Word and world (as if my finite mind can grasp all the intricacies of who He is) before believing in Him?

How does salvation work? I’m still grappling with that one after all these years of being saved. I know I am saved. I don’t completely understand how it “works.” I think I understand more today than I did last year or ten years ago. That’s the great thing about believing the whole Bible—there’s always more to learn.

This post originally appeared here in April, 2013, and six years later, there’s still more to learn about the Bible.

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “Except, of course they do—it’s just not readily apparent. You have to think about it, have the definition of fruit explained. So, too, with the Bible.”

    One thing about fruit Becky, it is a simple object and explainable plus you can actually observe the fruit being discussed. If a scientifically qualified technician a fruit grower or a horticulturist were to explain why they are all classed as fruit you could bet they will all inform you with the same facts.

    Not so with the Biblical explanations, because it depends on who is explaining, so you would believe what your particular church would have you believe. Therefore why would any explanation be anything more than speculation based on ideals when you consider there is nobody who can verify who is correct?

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    • Hi, Steve. The fruit analogy was . . . well, an analogy to help us understand the spiritual, so of course, as I’ve said before, the spiritual cannot be studied in the same way that the physical can. But analogies help.

      And I understand your confusion. With all the false teaching and people who accept only part of the Bible, it does seem as if it’s all a “pick and choose” religion. The difference is between those who accept part of the Bible and those who accept all of it. In that latter category, you’ll find remarkable agreement on all the central elements that define a Christian. But, as so much else, understanding this requires actually knowing the Bible—reading it, studying it, asking questions of it, and searching it for answers.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post, Becky! The Bible does indeed interpret itself, and no one is free to pick and choose which parts to believe and which to ignore. Much of God’s truth is paradox–like the Trinity (one God, three persons) and the Incarnation (one person Jesus, 100% God and 100% human). But science also includes paradox, such as light (acts like particles of matter, acts like waves of energy), and scientific people are willing to accept those paradoxes, even as they mock Christians for accepting paradoxes by faith. J.

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  3. […] understand why atheists have trouble with the Bible. To be honest, it’s not an easy book. Some passages have led people to believe […]

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  4. Good analogy about technologies we use. I have no idea how what I’m typing in my kitchen can go out all over the world, but I still do it, technologically challenged as I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Really amazing post

    Liked by 1 person


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