Is That an Error in the Bible? – Part 1
Ed. Note. This article is excerpted from our series, “Is the Bible Unique or Just Another Religious Book?,” and slightly modified for publication.
The Bible: who wrote it? God wrote it through men of God. The entire Bible claims to be the Word of God and it proves to be the Word of God. But are there any errors in it? The skeptic says, “Yes. There are scientific errors, historical errors.” Let me say it very simply and very straightforwardly: The Bible is the Word of God; God cannot err; therefore, the Bible is the Word of God.
I was at Princeton University a number of years ago and I put this up on the screen and asked the students, “How many of you believe this?” Not very many. I said, “If the Bible is not inerrant, if the Bible is not without error, then you must believe one of two things or both: either God can err or the Bible is not the Word of God. If there were an error in the Bible, there would be an error in God.
- Hebrews 6:18 says it’s impossible for God to lie.
- Titus 1:2 says, “The God who cannot lie.” John 17:17, “Thy word is truth.”
- Romans 3:4, “Let God be true and every man a liar.”
- Psalm 119:160, “The entirety of thy word is truth.”
If God can’t err and the Bible is the Word of God, then the Bible cannot err.
How do we know the Bible is the Word of God? Because Christ the Son of God said the Bible is the Word of God. How do we know He is the Son of God? Because supernatural predictions, supernatural and sinless life, prediction and accomplishment of the resurrection from the dead. So if Jesus is the Son of God, this is the Word of God, and if it is the Word of God, it cannot err.
God can’t err. But the Bible, as we’ve seen, is the Word of God; therefore the Bible can’t err. Does this mean there aren’t any difficulties in the Bible? Errors, no; difficulties, yes. And we’re going to address those difficulties.
Number one: Assuming the unexplained is not explainable. That’s a big error of the critics. Just because we can’t explain it, doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation. Scientists can’t explain how life grows on thermal vents in the depths of the sea. It’s too hot and too deep. But it does. And they’re working on it. I can’t explain every alleged error in the Bible. I’ve been studying it for 50 years. I wrote a book with over 800 of them in it called When Critics Ask, and yet there are things I can’t explain. Does that mean there’s no explanation? No. We treat the Bible the way scientists treat nature. When he comes upon an anomaly, he doesn’t throw in the towel and give up science. He says, “There must be an explanation and I’m going to continue to study until I find out what it is.”
Another mistake the critics make: Presuming the Bible is guilty until proven innocent. I’m glad that those critics are not on my jury, because an American citizen is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If we treat the Bible like a friend, if we treat the Bible like someone we trust, and the Bible has proven trustworthy, has proven to be our friend, we give it the benefit of the doubt. Critics jump to conclusions about the Bible and don’t give it the benefit of the doubt. They said there were no Hittites. Well, we found out there were Hittites. The Bible is the only place in the world the Hittites were mentioned until a whole library was found in Turkey. They said that Moses couldn’t write. There was no writing in Moses’ day. Well, the critics were wrong. Writing goes back 2,000 years before Moses.
Another mistake the critics make is: Confusing our fallible interpretations with God’s infallible revelation. There have been a lot of mistaken interpretations of the Bible. But there are also a lot of mistaken interpretations of science. I’d hate to see a book with all the mistakes scientists have made down through the years in interpreting nature. And just because some Christians have made mistakes in interpreting the Bible doesn’t mean the Bible is wrong.
Here’s another mistake critics make: Failing to understand the context of the passage. You know, you can prove almost anything from the Bible. I was coming back from South America, looked down through little white puffy clouds at the blue Pacific. The friend next to me opened his Bible and here is the first verse his eye hit upon: “I would not have you to be ignorant, how all our fathers were under the clouds and passed through the sea.”
I looked at the Bible. I looked out at the blue Pacific. You see, that verse was out of context. It was about Moses and the children of Israel coming through the Red Sea, not about me coming from Ecuador. Just because a text in the Bible says, “There is no god” (Psalm 14:1) doesn’t mean there is no God. The context is, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no god.’”
Here’s another mistake critics make: Neglecting to interpret difficult passages in the light of clear ones. The Bible says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Well, that’s difficult because a lot of clear passages say, “For by grace are we saved through faith… it is a gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8); “To him that does not work but trusts Jesus, his salvation is secure” (Romans 4:5).
You see, there are a lot of difficult passages, but always take the clear ones to interpret the difficult ones.
Our look at errors made by critics is continued in Part 2.
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