The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Do you believe the Bible is infallible? If so, why?

#1

Introduction

Having been a Christian my whole life, I’m struggling to believe these days. One of the first doubts that started eroding my faith has to do with the divine inspiration of the Bible. I was hoping some of you could help address this.

I started by wondering, “How do we know we have the correct books in the Bible?”
–> Maybe we have too little. There could be books that God inspired, that were lost or left out of the cannon.
–> Maybe we have too much. There could be books that are NOT inspired, that made it in.
–> Maybe none of it is actually inspired… !?

Then I realized this could apply to the paragraphs, sentences, or even words within books.
–> Maybe we have too little. Maybe God’s Spirit was inspiring more than what the human author wrote down, and so any given book could have been longer. They failed to recognize it, or got lost in their own thoughts, or were hindered by sin and thus “missed” some of the truth they might have otherwise had access to.
–> Maybe we have too much. It’s possible that we have divinely inspired sections mixed in with human sections.
–> Maybe none of it is actually inspired.


Counter-Arguments

There are a few possible responses to this:

  1. God would have preserved his Word.
    – This would be nice, but we don’t know it to be true. This is just our own idea about what we think God would do. We could easily be wrong. Human ideas about God and what he would / wouldn’t do can be inaccurate.

  2. God guided the men who put together the cannon. And/or he would not allow his church to stray into error on an important issue like Scripture.
    – Similar to #1, it would be nice if it was true. But sadly, a cursory glance at church history shows that all sorts of error is permitted by God. Even gross error, of a serious and even heinous nature at times. So these “preservation” arguments don’t work.

  3. These books were written by apostles, and their testimony is true.
    – Were they, actually, written by apostles? For a number of books - not least of which is Hebrews and the Gospels - we don’t actually know who wrote them.
    – Even granting apostolic authorship for a moment, is apostolic testimony infallible? Clearly not. Just look at Galatians for an instance where Peter (the head apostle! the first Pope, if you’re catholic!) was wrong about an issue that was extremely important to the early church. So even apostles are not spared from believing and communicating error to the church.
    – From history we see that even spiritual men and church leaders make lots of mistakes in doctrine and practice.


Closing

Again, just to underscore this point: assuming God exists, let’s consider the way he works through humans. He uses flawed human vessels and allows all sorts of error and mistakes… to permeate every area. This is undeniable.

With this in mind, why should we assume that the canon of Scripture was correctly put together? Or that the content of any given book is 100% inspired and infallible, without any human error mixed in? Or that ANY portion of any book is, in fact, inspired and infallible?

Thanks.

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#2

Perhaps we need to track down…one of these time travelers, I found on YouTube today. They might have the answers we seek!

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#3

I’m of little help here since the Biblical material does not appear infallible to me. Not insofar as it seems evident that its’ vantage point often reflect views of the day sections were written, but which sometimes changes in sections written by later writers.

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#4

Hey Tomato,

From my point of view we need to find a document that we know is infallible. Gladly, I would consider this to be the Torah/Tanak - that of which hasn’t changed for thousands of years. The Hebrew language has stayed consistent, with the Dead Sea Scrolls providing good evidence that it has remained untouched. Now if you do hold the same belief as I have, then it would be safe to assume that nothing in the NT should contradict with what is taught in the OT. Beliefs may be added upon the basis of the OT, however if it contradicts the old then it is incorrect. If you don’t hold the Tanak as infallible then I would start there to find some evidence on it.

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#5

Even most Jews don’t see a basis for believing that everything in the “old” is true or remains valid. What’s the basis for believing that they are wrong?

Indeed, the Christian tradition perceives that Jesus brings us the clearest truths as our guide to what’s correct, not that his ideas must submit to the old covenant.

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#6

That’s absolutely true Bob… but even avowed believers on this board actively call into question, i.e., doubt the truth and validity of Jesus’ recorded words when said words don’t line up with their own chosen beliefs brought to the texts. :astonished:

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#7

Well I would say that even if something is not valid in this age, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Why would you not think that the common view of Jews is to not take the Tanak as infallible?

I would argue that Jesus didn’t change any of the instructions/beliefs that were being taught in the OT. His whole life was a visual representation of those instructions being fulfilled. I think you can get down a slippery slope if you say that Jesus gives the truth just by a feeling that you get. I can say that Jesus is guiding my heart to performing water baptism, however biblically I could also see evidence that goes against that view. I think we should get the Truth through proper interpretation and fact.

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#8

Probably most could agree with that… the variance comes with how that is perceived to be achieved.

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#9

mik,

Thanks for responding to my perceptions. I think the reason that most Jews do not take the Tanak as infallible is that they see it as containing an evolving set of ideas and rules among which many are antiquated and not deserving of being followed. I.e. they are not fundamentalists and see the Bible as reflecting the human perceptions of its authors. To a large degree this may separate Orthodox Jews and the much larger contingent of Conservative, Reformed and Reconstructionist Jews.

I may have semantic confusion about synonyms when you say that OT instructions are ‘true,’ though “not valid.” I’m also confused that you say Jesus didn’t change any OT instructions right after conceding some of them now are “not valid.” Several papers on the Forum page ‘Bob Wilson’ outline my own case that Jesus introduced numerous profound changes which fatally provoked the OT scholars of his day.

For just one example here: when in Mark 2 he rejects the O.T. teaching that external things including food are what make a person unclean before God, and “declares all foods clean,” arguing that nothing external can make us unclean since it is only what in our ‘heart’ that can do that, I hear him to say that such instructions were both untrue and invalid, and providing a basis for believing that this had always been the case. No wonder his Jewish listeners saw this unmistakably as insisting on a provocative change regarding the Torah’s instructions.

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#10

Something can be superseded without being “wrong”… it simply gets replaced by that which is “better” after serving or fulfilling its intended purpose etc.

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#11

Thanks for the input as well!

I guess what I meant was that the Jews specifically in Jesus’ time and prior to that would have been extremely well versed in the Tanak as they studied the scriptures ruthlessly. I would say nowadays that Jews would not regard it as highly.

I find the discrepancy between what Jesus taught and what the Tanak taught to be really interesting (of which I have a lot more to think about). However, in the case of Mark 2, could you not say that Jesus did declare all foods clean, however the following of the rule was an act of obedience for the Jewish people. For the gentile believers, they did not have to abide by the 613 laws. Wasn’t it true that the Jews knew the law didn’t ‘save’ them from anything - but it was an extreme showing of devotion towards God? As a result, their ‘heart’ was fully invested and obedient.

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#12

tomatohorse, I don’t believe the Bible is infallible. As Bob says here:

Back in Noah’s day, all foods were clean
Genesis 9:3 " Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things."
And I agree that this was always the case.

Davo, Leviticus 24:19-21 says this " If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done so shall it be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death."

What purpose does this fulfill? The Golden Rule ( the something better, as you put it) was already being taught. Cain was not put to death. He was forgiven, as it says in Genesis 2:24 " If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy -sevenfold.", which corresponds to Jesus’ teaching on how many times we should forgive.

According to Lev.12:6-7 “When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle.” And the priest shall make atonement for her.

Again, what purpose does this serve? Having a baby was never a sin. This is the foolishness of a darkened heart as Paul says.

Jesus Himself said that the Jewish leaders were teaching commandments of men.

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#13

I’m surprised you have any those texts left in your loose-leaf bible :roll_eyes:

And there is little value in you referencing Jesus… someone you have shown you doubt.

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#14

They’re in the same books of the Bible that you read. Are you going to answer the questions or as usual are you just going to make snide remarks?

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#15

Nothing snide, let me simply quote you… “How do we know if Jesus even said these words?:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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#16

Mik,

Thanks for responding, and giving us an interesting line of reasoning to think about.

From my point of view we need to find a document that we know is infallible. Gladly, I would consider this to be the Torah/Tanak - that of which hasn’t changed for thousands of years.

Why do you consider the Torah to be infallible? Is it because it has not changed, or do you have some other reason?

Now if you do hold the same belief as I have, then it would be safe to assume that nothing in the NT should contradict with what is taught in the OT.

I suppose I have two issues with this apparent reasoning:

  1. Large portions of the OT are done away with or significantly reinterpreted in the NT. While you could argue that this is not a contradiction, per se, it is certainly a drastic upheaval of many core concepts. It’s hard to argue parity between OT / NT when you look at the sweeping revisions the NT makes.
  2. Even if the above was not an issue, simply saying “X does not contradict Y” does not make X infallible. A book on how to feed cats doesn’t contradict the OT either, but that doesn’t make it infallible!
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#17

Well, Jews certainly believed following the food rules was an obligatory act of obedience in which they were “fully invested.” And they would have been untroubled if Jesus had said that it didn’t make sense to expect it of Gentiles.

But the reality is that as usual, the audience Jesus is actually presented as challenging is Jews. And his argument reasons that such laws make no sense for them. So how can they not rightly hear these universal words as a justification for jettisoning their obedience to such wrong-headed rules, and thus call him a blasphemer?

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#18

I want to call everyone’s attention - to #3. According to this report, a French Catholic priest and scientist…build (or wrote about) a machine, to see back into time. This machine is supposedly hidden, at the Vatican. If you start YouTube…then click on the YouTube time link, to about 4.00…you will see all the details. This would definitely answer, the questions posed here. As well as “educate” some folks here, with their “offbeat” theologies.

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#19

Still no answers to my questions. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I’m always amazed at the responses of those who say the Bible is the infallible word of God.
For example, " If the Bible is not infallible then how do we know what’s true?" or “If the Bible is not infallible then anything goes.” Well, I’d say, if the Bible IS in fact infallible then anything goes. You have God loving the smell of burnt flesh, slaughtering men women and children, disfiguring people, demanding sacrifices of animals, the list goes on so take your pick. Even if it is infallible, there are many fallible interpretations, so again, take your pick. Maybe we should use our God given brains.

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#20

We need a video, to illustrate this point!

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