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Is the Bible really infallible?

Postby Skin is In » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:41 pm

my bible teacher always teaches that the bible is infallible and then we had a study on rules that applied in the old testament and no longer apply in the new testament (for example, sacrifices, and the sabbath.) if the laws are retracted by god and doesn’t that mean that the bible isn’t infallible and that god made an error in the old testament?
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Re: Is the Bible really infallible?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:11 pm

First of all, "infallible" is too inadequate a word for the majesty and character of the Bible. Theologically speaking, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to use a single term that provides an adequate box for us to put Scripture in. All of the words are too limited, and Scripture is too exalted. We use words like infallible, inerrant, and literal to try to declare our deep respect and honor for the authority and divine nature of the Scriptures, but these are man-made words used to refute accusations against the Bible. While we admire the reasons they were coined, further investigation shows us that they don't rise to the necessary height to capture the worthiness of God's Word.

Our wisest course is to use words that the Bible itself uses to describe itself, and we can find safety and assurance in the adequacy of those terms. Even those words need to be interpreted, however. The first term comes from 2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Paul's points are several, not the least of which is that Scripture has God’s authority because God is its source. And because God is its source, we can treat it as having the same attributes that God himself has: objective truth, authoritative information, and reliable guidance. It is to be believed and obeyed.

Being God-breathed, the Scripture carries the very presence of God and life of God himself. These words have authority and truth, power and presence. "God-breathed" emphasizes a divine source rather than human truth. Is there a difference between human truth and God's truth? Not in a normal sense, but yes in the sense that our truth is a derived truth, and God's truth is the original and the source of truth. Think of a pool table with billiard balls on it. When you hit the cue ball into another ball, the other ball is not moving on its own power. It's moving because something made it move. The energy it has is real energy, but it's different from the energy of the first ball. And it can't be as much as the original energy; at least some energy was lost on impact. We as humans deal in derived truth (the second ball), but God's Word is Source Truth, objective truth, absolute truth. God is not only the source of truth, he is truth, and the Scriptures are an authoritative revelation of himself. The truth I tell, by contrast, is derived truth. Something else made it true; I'm just passing it on.

Scripture being God-breathed puts it on a different level than anything I have to say, no matter how true it is. His truth, the Bible, carries more weight, more authority, and more authenticity.

In addition, 2 Peter 1.21 says, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." Here we see again that God is the sole source, but "the authority of the text is vested in the human communicator, ... [which is] our only access to God’s communication, which is our true source of authority." While the pen was in the hand of a human, the words had both divine source, initiative, authority and reliability.

John Walton and D. Brent Sandy counsel: (1) We should be competent readers of the text itself (the words, grammar, syntax, context, genre, etc.); (2) We should be ethical readers as we seek to follow what is written, following the path of the intended meaning of the text; and (3) We should be virtuous readers. The Bible is offering an encounter with God, and it expects the reader to be transformed as a result.

As far as OT rules no longer applying in the NT, to some extent that is true, but I don't want to use generalizations that might lead you to misunderstanding. The OT law was written for Israel under the covenant. We are no longer under the covenant, so we are not under the law. Jesus fulfilled the law, so now we are followers of Jesus. All this needs further explanation, but I don't just want to write a wall of text. We can talk further about what pieces you want to discuss.

The law of the OT were never retracted by God. Galatians 4.1-7 tells us that the law was like a nanny. It had its place, but now we have received our full rights and the OT has been superseded by the new covenant. But the OT is still valuable.

The Old Testament is God-breathed just like the NT (2 Tim. 3.16), and the prophets of old spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1.21). The OT reveals God just as the NT does (Hebrews 1.1), and the OT is considered Holy Scripture just as the NT is. We believe that the Law was fulfilled by Christ (Mt. 5.17) and we aren't under its supervision (Gal. 3.25), but the OT has tremendous value for Christians (2 Tim. 3.16), and we regard it as Scripture (Acts 24.14; Rom. 3.31).

The NT was created to tell the story of Jesus and to show how the OT was fulfilled by Jesus. It tells how salvation by grace through faith was always the plan (Gal. 3.6-14), and how the "rivers" of the Eden Problem (sin), the Babel Problem (deity falsely construed), God's covenant, God's presence, redemption, and resurrection are integral to the whole (both OT and NT) to reveal God to us and bring us to salvation.

The OT forms the basis of Jesus's credentials, but Jesus supplied his own credentials in what he said and did.

As Dr. Craig Evans says, "The Old Testament provides the context and framework for understanding the New Testament. In other words, the New Testament wouldn't makes sense to us without the Old Testament."

Please don't disregard the Old Testament. The whole book, OT & NT, is God's revelation for us.

God didn't make an error in the OT. It had its place, and it still has its place.


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