Do you believe the Bible is true?
If you’re a reader of this blog, I’m guessing your answer is yes. Let me ask you another question. What do you mean by “true?” How would you define “true” to your kids? Are you prepared to explain what it means – and doesn’t mean – for the Bible to be true, and why you have faith that it’s true?
Saying the Bible is true may at first sound like a simple declaration that is at the heart of Christian belief. Indeed, I believe it’s a necessary declaration for all Christians! But I don’t believe it’s sufficient – especially as it relates to what we teach our kids and how we talk to unbelievers.
The issue of biblical truth (or lack thereof) is usually the dividing line between believers and unbelievers. Our ability to elaborate on the concept of biblical truth may make the difference in raising kids who believe in the Lord and kids who don’t.
Pretty key, right?
Can I invite you to engage with me on a small journey to explore more deeply what it means to say that the Bible is true? This is the first post in a series to dig into the question of what biblical truth means and how we should communicate that truth to our kids and the world.
What Does it Mean to Say Something is “True?”
It’s true that the earth is round. But what does that statement alone mean?
…That when we look out the window, we should see a round world?
…That when we touch things in our world, we should feel a curvature?
…That when we walk, we should feel the world turning?
…That when we go outside, we might fall off the world?
In light of these questions, think about the nature of the truth that the earth is round.
- It isn’t simple. In fact, most of us would fail to offer an eloquent and detailed explanation of how the earth is round while we experience something quite different.
- It requires explanation. Saying “it’s true that the earth is round” to someone unfamiliar with the concept doesn’t make it clear (no one has experienced seeing a round world outside their window).
Similarly, “the Bible is true” is not a statement we should casually toss around as if it’s a simple belief that requires no further explanation.
For example, does saying the Bible is true mean…
- The Bible provides an unbiased account of historical events? (No – the entire Old Testament, for example, is written from the Jewish perspective.)
- The Bible presents a clear truth on every matter that requires no interpretation from the reader? (No – just look at how many denominations there are even within Protestantism.)
- The translations from the original languages provide a perfect guide to the original meaning? (No – there are many verses that have an entirely different meaning when you compare translations available today.)
- The ancient writers were never influenced by their scientifically limited world view? (No – there are many references to a flat earth, as just one example.)
- Multiple accounts of the same event in the Bible are identical in detail? (No – many details differ on the same accounts between the gospels and throughout the Old Testament.)
- Things presented factually are accurate? (No – not by today’s standard, anyway; look at the difference in genealogies given for Jesus or try to add up the years in the Old Testament.)
Maybe it’s easy for you, as a believer, to set these things aside in favor of a straight-forward statement of biblical truth. But these are just a few of the things that unbelievers write volumes about as evidence that the Bible is NOT true.
Have you heard the saying, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!”? I think the heart of what well-meaning Christians are saying with this is that they believe the Bible is “true.” But putting our foot down on a declaration that something is true is like putting our foot down that the earth is round. Yes, it’s true that the earth is round. But it makes no sense to end the conversation there when teaching someone about that concept. In fact, it would do absolutely nothing to aid in the development of the person’s understanding of that truth in their everyday life.
With the secularization of today’s society and the animosity with which many unbelievers approach Christianity, it’s easy to get defensive of the Bible and to want to make simple, declarative statements of our belief. But we need to be defenders of the Bible, not defensive about the Bible.
While you and I may unequivocally state that we hold the Bible to be 100% true, let’s not stop there. Let’s never say that settles it. Let’s be the ones to start the conversation, not end it. We owe it to our kids.
In my next post, I’ll dig into the historical aspects of the Bible’s truth.
If you could sum up in one sentence what it means to you that the Bible is “true,” what would you say?