Tagged: Bible

Is the Bible literally true?

Christians are sometimes asked if we believe the Bible is literally true.

After all, whether eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood is a plunge into cannibalism, or a figurative expression of full devotion, depends on how we understand the language of Scripture.

In one sense, we might say the Bible is divinely inspired literature through which God speaks to human beings in our own language. This naturally includes a range of literary devices, from narrative to hyperbole.

So, what does it mean to take the Bible “literally”?

It means applying a natural reading as the author or speaker intended, with a goal of grasping the writer’s message. This requires context and may include approximations, analogies, metaphors, quotations, parables, apocalyptic language, etc.

In contrast, taking the Bible “literalistically” means adhering to a rigid understanding of the primary meaning of words, without allowing for figurative language or a possible range of meanings.

An example may help clarify this. In John 10:9, Jesus states, “I am the door.” A literalistic rendering of this passage means that Jesus is calling himself an actual wooden piece of hardware, which either is absurd, or communicates a failed grasp of reality for the One who claims to be our only hope of everlasting life.

A literal understanding of this verse, however, considers the figurative language of Jesus’ words and the context in which He speaks. In other words, Jesus is the one true hope of everlasting life.
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The infallibility of Scripture

Previously: The inerrancy of Scripture

This is the third in a series of columns on the inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of Scripture.

When Christians say the Bible is true, we often use terms to describe the manner in which God has spoken to us through His written Word.

One such term is “infallible.” But what does that mean?

Incapable of error

By infallibility, we mean the original manuscripts are incapable of error. This is because the Bible is inspired, or God-breathed, resulting in “autographs” that are inerrant and infallible.

If the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture, and His breathed-out words are exactly what He wanted to communicate to us, then we can rightly say these autographs are incapable of error because God is wholly dependable. He does not lie, make mistakes, or lead us astray.
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The inerrancy of Scripture

Previously: The inspiration of Scripture

This is the second in a series of columns on the inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of Scripture.

When Christians say the Bible is true, we often use terms to describe the manner in which God has spoken to us through His written Word.

One such term is “inerrant.” But what does that mean?

Freedom from error

The inerrancy of Scripture means the Bible is fully truthful in all of its teachings. P.D. Feinberg writes in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, inerrancy is “the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original manuscripts and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences.”

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy puts it this way: Scripture in its entirety is “free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.”
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The inspiration of Scripture

This is the first in a series of columns on the inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of Scripture.

When Christians say the Bible is true, we often use terms to describe the manner in which God has spoken to us through His written Word.

One such term is “inspired.” But what does that mean?

God-breathed

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Tim. 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God …”

The phrase “inspired by God” comes from the Greek theopneustos. It means “God-breathed” and conveys the idea that Scripture is the product of a holy exhalation.

God did not breathe into the Scriptures, thus inspiring them; He breathed out His Word. The Bible’s origin is God Himself.
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What’s wrong with the Word-Faith movement?

This is the third in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.

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FEX_018The Word-Faith movement, also known as the Prosperity Gospel, is leading millions of people to embrace false teachings.

Consider the movement’s following errors:

The Word-Faith movement abuses the Bible.

While prosperity preachers proclaim the Bible as the source of their teaching, they consistently fail to correctly teach the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).

Specifically, they commit three common errors of biblical interpretation:

  1. They ignore the context. A single verse, such as 3 John 2, must be read as part of the full narrative, and the full narrative must be considered in light of the intended audience and in comparison with the rest of Scripture.
  1. They rely on extra-biblical experiences to establish their interpretations of Scripture. It is not uncommon to hear leaders like Kenneth Copeland say that God spoke to them in an audible voice or appeared to them in a vision. This is not to deny that the Lord may use dreams and visions to speak to people today. However, we must lay all experiences against the yardstick of Scripture. The canon is closed, and we must take pains not to add to or take away from God’s word.
  1. They begin with beliefs rather than with the Bible. Based on “dreams,” “visions,” “prophecies,” and other subjective experiences, they formulate new teachings that tickle the ear rather than lead to godliness (2 Tim. 4:3).

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