Is the Bible true? (Part 1)
Or maybe the better question is, “How is the Bible true?”
But before we tackle either of those questions, we have to answer the question of what it means for something to be true and before we do that we have to agree on a definition of what true even means. See the conundrum building here?
One particular group of people will always inevitably think their view of the Bible is more true than all the other groups of people — which is what the Pharisees and Sadducees thought by the way. And then they’ll condemn or belittle or bemoan others that don’t agree with them — again the Pharisees did this too.
So about that question. It cannot possibly be answered without qualifying it. Is the Bible literally true? In many places yes. In other places no. Is it figuratively true? In many places yes. In other places no. Is the Bible metaphorically true? Again, in many places yes. In other places no. Does this mean that the Bible is all of the sudden fallible? No (which is what people worry about when you suggest that you don’t have to read everything literally in the Bible).
For those that assume the Bible is true and that it is inspired by God, let’s ask a different question. How is the Bible true? Now we’re getting into the good stuff.
We’ve entered the realm of interpretation. The Bible wasn’t written in English. It was written in Hebrew and Greek (and maybe a couple of other minor languages). Before Hebrew scripture (what some refer to as the Old Testament), there was no bible. From Adam to Noah, no bible. From Noah to Abraham, no bible. From Abraham to Moses, no bible. And then starting from Moses on, scripture begins being written down (and truthfully probably later).
A millennium passes without an organized cannon of written scripture from Adam to Moses. This is essentially the time period covered by Genesis. A thousand years pass by and then all of a sudden Moses starts writing down the stories that had been passed down by previous generations while they were roaming the wilderness.
They didn’t have a collection of books with words to debate over. Instead they had stories they passed from one generation to the next to remind each coming generation of who God is. Stories that told the beginnings of life (Genesis means beginnings) were finally being written down a millennium past the first events they originally described.
I’ll eventually get back around to the original question of this article once we get some interpretation mechanics down. But first, what was God’s purpose in inspiring Moses to write down these stories that we now have in the books of Genesis and Exodus?
We can only speculate here because only God knows the mind of God. I don’t imagine that the main purpose of these stories were to scientifically prove anything. At least not for a few thousand years. I do imagine that God wanted these stories written down by Moses because they reveal truths about who God is and what God is doing in the world. These were truths worth passing on to every generation regardless of culture, mindset, philosophy, or resource.
Here are a handful of these truths I believe God wants passed on from generation to generation.
- Genesis 1:1 — God created the heavens and the earth. God is behind all things good in the world. We’re not here by accident.
- Genesis 1:26 — We’re created in the image of God. That means all life from conception to death is sacred.
- Genesis 2:7 — It’s God who gives us life and it’s God who can take it away. We cannot exist apart from God.
- Genesis 22:18 — God will bless all the nations through Abraham (a promise he keeps and fulfills through Jesus in the bloodline of Abraham).
- Many Genesis stories show us that God is faithful (even when we’re not, i.e. Noah’s Ark, Abraham, David)
I’m going to pause for now, but in Part 2 I’ll get more into the original question with this question — Are we retelling these stories with the same motivation the original storytellers did? And does this matter?
Is the Bible true?
- Part 1: Or maybe the better question is, “How is the Bible true?”
- Part 2: Are we retelling these stories with the same motivation the original storytellers did?
- Part 3: A process for getting at that question
- Part 4: Donkeys, Elephants, and Poems
- Part 5: Wild boars are the key to unlocking it all
- Part 6: Onions in PaRaDiSe
- Part 7: The God and Satan Contradiction
- Part 8: Creation to New Creation
- Part 9: Answering the question