For many people today, Bible-believing Christianity seems like a ridiculous proposition. “After all,” they will say, “The Bible is full of errors.” But is it?
To begin, it should be admitted that if the Bible is full of errors, then the critics are correct: Bible-believing Christianity would be as ridiculous as every other religion. A religion based on a work of fiction is nothing but a dangerous fairy tale. So if the Bible contains errors, the Christian is ultimately no better off than the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Wiccan – or the Jedi.
But are there errors in the Bible? No. The historic position of the Christian Church, and the position of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church today, is that the Bible is inerrant – without error in the original. We confess that the original documents of the Bible in the original languages, though written through men, were directly inspired by God and thus protected from any error.
To many people today, this position seems antiquated and absurd. Skeptics may point out that the church no longer has the original documents of the Bible – only copied manuscripts, some of which disagree. They may further point to various places in the Bible where they perceive a contradiction or an error. These objections should be taken seriously. How do those committed to the inerrancy of the Bible respond?
To the first objection, it is true that what the Church has today are not the original biblical documents, but collections of copied manuscripts. But what manuscripts! The Hebrew Old Testament was preserved over many centuries by a group of scholars known as the ‘Masoretes’. The Masoretes were extraordinarily careful scholars. For example, at the end of each book they included a postscript listing the number of verses, the number of letters, the middle word, and the middle letter! This made it easy for copyists to check the accuracy of their work. The diligence of the Masoretes is unrivaled in the preservation of ancient literature.
For the Greek New Testament, approximately 5000 whole or partial manuscripts exist today. No other book from the ancient world is so well-attested. By careful study and comparison of these manuscripts, biblical scholars have been able to reconstruct the original text with great certainty. At those few points where questions still remain over the original reading, the various possible readings affect no fact or doctrine.
In sum, no ancient text has been so well-preserved as the Bible.
To the second objection, the first thing to be noted is that many alleged difficulties in the Bible only appear as such to those who assume in advance the impossibility of the supernatural. For example, many modern critics deny the reality of the biblical miracles. Why? “Because miracles are impossible!” But this is not an argument or evidence. It is an assumption. And this assumption is just as much a faith commitment as the faith which believes in miracles! Skeptics assume that the Bible is erroneous, and so they find errors. On the other hand, Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant, and so they seek resolutions to difficulties.
Are there difficulties in the Bible? Yes. Yet these difficulties do not mean that the Bible is full of errors – they only mean that Christians and honest skeptics have a full investigation before them! And there are tools available. One excellent resource is the New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer. Another time-tested resource is John Haley’s Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible.
Are there errors in the Bible? No. Yet Christians committed to the inerrancy of the Bible do not shun the hard questions. Rather, we seek honest answers – from both skeptics and the Scriptures.
Want to experience honest, rigorous Christianity for yourself? Join us for worship at Resurrection OPC this Sunday!