Is the Bible trustworthy?
I recently had an aggravating dialogue with someone who insisted that the Bible contains errors regarding science and history, and, therefore, it should only be trusted regarding spiritual matters. I have run across countless people like this over the years, but what made this dialogue particularly exasperating was the fact that he was entirely comfortable with his position even after I explained how irrational it is.
In the areas of science and history, much of what the Bible says can be tested. Spirituality cannot be tested or objectively proven. Essentially what this mindset argues is that we should trust what the Bible says about spiritual things, where it cannot be tested, even though in the areas where the Bible can be tested, it is full of errors, discrepancies, contradictions, and backwards thinking.
Imagine you had a friend who offered to take you out to dinner, and on the way, he got into a traffic accident, causing you minor injuries. Later, to make it up to you, he offered to drive you to a follow-up doctor’s appointment. He insisted he knew a shortcut, but proceeded to get lost, causing you to miss your appointment. The next day you discover an infection has set in and you need to go to the emergency room. Are you going to call this same friend and ask for a ride?
If the Bible is like this friend, time and time again leading you astray and causing you problems, why in the world would you trust it when your eternal destiny is at stake? If the Bible is wrong in history, science, and other “unimportant” matters, why in the world should you trust it on matters that are eternally important?
To this person, though, it didn’t matter. Evidently God did not care enough to make sure the biblical authors got science and history correct. But, when they started writing about spiritual things, God made sure they got things right. Hmm...
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, emphasis added)
“God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change his mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19)
“This God — His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 18:30)
The Bible sure seems to present itself as a “take it or leave it” proposition. The Bible does not present itself as partially true, or mostly inspired, or almost flawless. The Bible is trustworthy! All of it! We don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we believe.
The one specific issue this guy raised was the fact that the Bible teaches that the sun revolves around the earth. Umm...it does? The Bible mentions sunsets and sunrises, but so does my weatherman. Granted, the authors of the Bible very likely believed that the sun revolves around the earth — because that is how it appears. And no, it does not appear God thought it was important enough to correct their thinking on this issue. But, the Bible does not say that the sun revolves around the earth. When the Bible mentions a sunrise or sunset, it is not teaching science. Rather, it is using a common observation to make a spiritual point: “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!” (Psalm 113:3)
The audacity it takes to make yourself the judge over what parts of the Bible you accept or reject—I can’t go there. You shouldn’t go there either.
S. Michael Houdmann
Is the Bible trustworthy?