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.