No Apologizing

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

The Bible…Good moral stories?


Have you ever been in a conversation about the Bible and hear a believer say “Some of the things in the Bible are good moral stories”.  How about a conversation with a non-believer that usually ends with “you believe that everything in the Bible is absolutely true?”  I certainly have.  What these people are usually implying is that some of the stories in the Bible are a little too fantastic to believe.  Nine times out of ten they are usually referring to Jonah, Noah or maybe even creation. 

The people described above are indirectly calling into question the inerrancy of the Bible.  If you are like me, you had never heard the word inerrancy and the Bible in the same sentence, let alone as truth.  In fact, up until a couple of years ago I would have been the person described above.  I used to look at the story of Noah, and the story of Jonah and say “wow, Really!?”  It was hard for me to accept the fact that a man would sit alive in the belly of a fish or that the world was flooded and Noah’s family was the only group that survived. 

If this is the first time that you are hearing the word inerrancy, the definition is simple.  According to the dictionary inerrancy means without error.  So what does inerrancy mean in the context of the Bible?  Well, if inerrancy means without error that means that in order for the Bible to be inerrant it has to be true.  The Bible has to be true.  Say it one more time and really let it soak in.  The Bible has to be true.  This includes all of the “stories” that are in the Bible. 

God is truth.  This is a pretty simple statement.  How do we know that God is truth?  He describes Himself as truth (Deuter. 32:4, Psalm 33:4, John 17:17). Meaning that truth is a characteristic/attribute of God.   What is the consequence of being truth?  That God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).  This provides the biblical foundation that God, and by extension God’s Word, is truth.  Pretty easy right?  God is truth, therefore God cannot contradict himself, and cannot lie.

Most people don’t hang their hats on this point when arguing against the inerrancy of the Bible.  What you will more traditionally hear from atheists primarily is something along these lines…”Your own Bible says that man will make mistakes.  Men wrote the Bible, so how can you say that the Bible is inerrant?”   If you have heard this statement before (I am sure many of you have) you should know that the premise of the question is incorrect.  This is a reflection of how half-truths can shape an opinion.  Man did not write the Bible alone.  The proof? 

2 Peter 1:21:

21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21, NIV)

Need more proof?

1 Corinthians 2:13

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2:13, NIV).

NEED MORE PROOF? 

2 Timothy 3:16

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV).

The message behind these verses, while man put pen to paper so to speak, they were not writing, the Holy Spirit and God were writing.   So lets back up a second and recap.  We have God saying that he is truth and incapable of lying (Deuter. 32:4, Psalm 33:4, John 17:17, Titus 1:2), we have multiple verses saying that man alone did not write the Bible.  We have this written explicitly in 2 Timothy 3:16 that God BREATHED the scripture.  What is the conclusion to be drawn?  That scripture is truth.  No discussion, no qualifiers, no distinction on moral stories, or things of this nature.  SCRIPTURE IS TRUTH, according to the word breathed by God.  This tells us that the Bible is inerrant. 

The argument posed in this blog is a simplistic basic argument for the inerrancy of the bible using God’s word.  Skeptics will challenge truths in the Bible because they appear to be contradictory to other statements in the Bible.  In future blogs we can address some of these “discrepancies” (emphasis on quotes). 

As Christians, we run the danger of showing others that the Bible is errant.  Statements like “good moral story” and “a little too fantastic” will do nothing but demonstrate your own lack of faith in the holy word of God to those you are testifying to.  Ultimately the question that has to be posed is this, if the book of Jonah is not true, what else isn’t?  Go back to the word of God.  If Jonah is not true then God is not truth.  Which means that possibly other parts of the Bible are errant.  Which ones?  Who knows, but what we do know is that this thought process brings error to the word of God, which destroys the entire bible.  Seem fatalistic?  Think about it.  The life of Christ, true or false?  You are probably screaming true, right?  But what is more fantastic, a man living in the belly of a fish, or a divine pregnancy where God sent his son, who was of God to die, where he was crucified, raised from the dead, and ascended to heaven?  Get the point?  The next time you feel your mind thinking that creation, or Jonah, or Noah or ANY of the “fantastic stories” of the Bible are just that, remember 2 Timothy 3:16, and know that God is truth, you are not.

PLEASE NOTE:  For a more evidential and less philosophical argument that doesn’t rely upon the interpretation of any Bible verses/passages, check out Kevin’s post on manuscript evidence.

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15 responses to “The Bible…Good moral stories?

  1. John Gault March 15, 2010 at 11:31 am

    The biblical “literalists”, such as yourself, really do fascinate me. It takes a special brand of stubborn, self-deception to stand in the face of everything rational, everything you can see and hear with your own senses, everything ever learned throughout the body of human knowledge, all science, all logic, and all history–in exchange for a single book which requires EXTREME mental acrobatics to even CONSIDER that it might true.

    At least the Christians you speak of in your posting–those who concede that the bible may be more symbolic than literal–have the good sense to abandon those parts of the God-myth which are the most incongruent with basic common-sense–keeping God alive in their minds by tucking him away into the ever shrinking gaps in human knowledge.

    I would like your opinion, however. Don’t you find the logic in your argument, above, to be rather circular?

    The argument is whether or not the Bible is inerrant…

    To prove that the bible IS inerrant, you have used quotations FROM THE BIBLE.

    In order for your “proof” to be relevant, one would have to be confident in the accuracy of it’s source–the Bible. Since the whole purpose of the argument is to DETERMINE the accuracy of the Bible, it seems a bit illogical to use it’s content as proof of the same, doesn’t it?

    The really disturbing part, however, is that you are absolutely honest about your motivation in holding onto such an illogical and rationally unlikely point of view. You realize that if part of the dogma is untrue, then the rest of it lies unprotected against the onslaught of truth, as well. So, rather than relinquish your superstition and move forward, you have decided to run backwards–and abandon the most important part of being human, our ability to reason.

    • kcbob March 16, 2010 at 6:14 am

      John,
      The intended audience for this piece was in fact Christians who are bold enough to accept that Christ was the son of God and died for their sins, and yet not bold enough to believe that God is capable of flooding the earth. You simply cannot have it both ways. It would be like reading a history book and saying that the Egyptians couldn’t exist because their creation of the pyramids was impossible. Or the Mayans didn’t exist because their understanding of time was impossible. Much as you would use a history book to define history for you, God uses the Bible to define truth for Him. Christians who deny that God is truth have created a God that does not exist.

      The truth is that there are a number of places one could go to see proof that God exists. The simplest, look in the mirror. Creation is the single biggest reason that we know God exists. If that isn’t enough, there is secular evidence that the Bible is true. I could have talked about the 20,000+ known manuscripts that document the New Testament. This makes the New Testament the most reliable document of antiquity. I could have talked about specific historians Falvius Josephus, and Cornelius Tactus who write about Christ. We could also talk about prophecies from the Old Testament that have come to pass. We could talk about the flaws of carbon dating. Some of these flaws are caused by a massive flood described in Genisis.

      These things prove that the ENTIRE Bible is true, because God is truth.

      • Shamelessly Atheist March 16, 2010 at 8:29 am

        Oh, my, kcbob. This was painful to read and I am truly embarrassed for you. Do you not realize that the argument that “God is truth because He says so” is circular? Your faith is based only on unjustified assertions.

        Look in the mirror? Go to a zoo and observe bonobos and chimpanzees, then try to convince yourself that we don’t share common ancestry.

        The 20,000+ plus scraps of manuscript have more differences than there are words in the bible! You’d think God would take a bit better care of His word and use a universal language we would all understand no matter how languages change over time.

        Josephus and “Tactus” (that’s “Tacitus”) ? Josephus only wrote about the existence of Christians, not Jesus, and the passage in Tacitus is known to have been added centuries later by Christian scribes (especially since the earliest copies of Tacitus make no mention of anything to do with Christianity).

        Prophecies? Like Ezekiel predicting Nebuchadnezzar destroying Tyre and that it would never be rebuilt? Google Earth Tyre some time. It’s still there. The mental gymnastics one has to go through to convince oneself that prophecies are not trivial (like the sacking of a city in antiquity), pencilled-in after the fact (Jesus born in Bethlehem, for which there is no corroboration) or plain false (the destruction of Tyre) amazes me.

        Carbon dating? It is known that using it to date organisms whose metabolism is not directly affected by atmospheric carbon. However, this does not affect trees, land animals, etc. And radiocarbon dating is not used to measure the age of the Earth anyway. About 40 different radiometric dating methods have been used to date the Earth as being 4.6 billion years old. It is patently absurd to suggest that all 40 methods were in error in such a way as to produce false data to within 1%.

      • kcbob March 16, 2010 at 9:39 am

        Shamelessly,

        There is no need to be embarrassed for me, because I am not embarrassed to claim the authority of the Bible and the word within it that is truth. Do you realize that it requires more faith for you to believe in evolution than it does for me to believe in God? No matter the evidence I throw out for you and perhaps others, you will undoubtedly refute it by calling it circular….using your own circular arguments. The odd thing here is what is gained or lost by what you believe and what I believe. What do I mean?

        You believe in evolution, and that there is no God. That much is clear. I believe that God is the creator of all, that his word is infallible, and that the Bible holds that word. By extension I assume that you do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. Whereas, I proclaim the deity of Christ, proclaim he died on the cross for my sins, and arose from the grave.

        One of us is wrong. But what are the consequences in that difference of belief.

        If you are right, and there is no God…there would be no moral rules to govern right or wrong other than law determined by man. But, who is to say that, that law is right? After all MAN wrote slavery into law. There would be no eternal consequences for your actions. Meaning, you could do whatever you want whenever you want. No rules (upcoming post on this in case you are interested). If you are right, and I am wrong I gain and lose nothing. If I am wrong all I have done is believed in a book, and lived my life according to its high moral standards.

        However, if I am right and you are wrong…then I gain abundant life. You will get an eternity in hell.

        It really is that simple.

        I am sure that you believe that there are consequences for the decisions that everyone makes. There are specific consequences to you if I am right, no specific consequences to me if you are right.

        The Bible is truth. I am more than happy to take my stand with God. There are discrepancies, as you have noted. I would assert that these are “discrepancies” that can be explained. If you could list specifics, we would be happy to address them individually as time permits.

        I am happy that you stopped by to read my post, and hope that you will stop by again.

  2. J.Random March 15, 2010 at 11:40 am

    In the same way, I will now prove that everything I write is inerrant:

    No word I write comes from my mind, but from the mind of God. The Spirit teaches me these words. All my writings are God-breathed, useful for correction and teaching and admonition.

    Ta-da! PROOF all my writing is inerrant! Because all my writing says it’s inerrant, and it must be true! I couldn’t possibly be misinterpreting what God’s telling me and writing down untruths, because God wouldn’t allow that to happen. And I know he wouldn’t allow that to happen because I just wrote it.

  3. starcrashx April 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I read your post because it was listed as a related post to mine (http://starcrashx.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/the-genesis-of-genesis/) and while I thought you put a lot of hard work and thought into this, it’s strange to reference bible verses to back up biblical truth. Of course the bible says it’s true. The dictionary and encyclopedia makers claim their books are true because they’re attempting to pass on truth, making edits to make the reference books more truthful, and have no reason to lie. This doesn’t make them 100% error-free, though.

    Faith, in any measure, does not make beliefs fact. The Muslims have a bible (the Q’aran) that I’m sure you believe is false. Many, many people have written articles about inerrancy found in the Q’aran, and yet millions of people still believe it is complete fact. It is belief, not proof, that binds people to its words.

    Anyway, I’d invite you to read my blog (and comment if you like). Despite my disagreement with your words, it’s still nice to hear a well-reasoned and smart argument of any sort. They’re a rare breed these days.

    • kbthejesusfreak April 14, 2010 at 10:14 pm

      Starcrashx,
      I commented today on your most recent blog.

      Thanks for engaging us in a good and cordial debate.

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