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What is the Bible? Why do we say it's God's Word? How did we get it? What makes it so special?
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Do I have to believe the WHOLE Bible to be a Christian?

Postby Jilly » Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:39 pm

I believe the Bible is the inerrant perfect word of God. However, I do not believe that trusting the entire Bible as being perfect truth is a requirement for a person to call themselves a Christian. My husband says "I do not believe you can call yourself a Christian and not believe everything in Scripture because you can't believe that part of what Jesus says is true and part is not true. That's calling Him either a liar or a deceiver and you have no assurance that your salvation can be true."

It took a few years of maturing and experience for me as a new Christian in my 20's to accept the entire Bible completely. I know others (new Christians) who feel the same. I do not believe that accepting Jesus as Savior means you can't tell someone you are saved unless you totally believe every word in the Bible. Some people may immediately accept it, some take more time before they understand that truth.

Does this mean that those who do not believe in God's word perfectly should not call themselves Christian? (Rhetorical question.)

Opinion?

(My husband is very upset with me for my belief above. I don't understand why. Since I believe in the absolute truth of God's word, and I believe every Christian should come to ultimately understand that truth, I am baffled with his being so upset. He voices concern that anyone can even be a Christian if they don't believe in the absolute truth of the Bible. I believe that instant belief in the Bible comes with time and experience for at least some people.)
Jilly
 

Re: Do I have to believe the WHOLE Bible to be a Christian?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:40 am

This is an excellent question. I’m going to give you a nuanced answer.

First of all, there are two things we know for sure:

1. We are saved because we have the nature of Jesus in us, by grace through faith. Our view of Scripture is never ever portrayed in the Bible as one of the conditions for salvation. Our salvation is based on the blood of Christ alone, and we respond to his invitation to receive him (Jn. 1.12). There is no indication in the Bible that, for instance, a view of Gn. 1 as metaphor rather than history, a view of Job or Jonah as fiction, will keep one out of heaven. History tells us, for example, that Martin Luther claimed that book of James was “an epistle of straw,” and he was greatly displeased with its inclusion in the New Testament.

2. All of the Bible is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3.16). We are able to (and are commanded to) trust the entire Bible as perfect truth (Mt. 5.18-19). We are given no warrant as followers of God to exclude even a single letter.

With these two irrefutable facts in front of us, where do we go, then, with your question? It’s not black-and-white, but instead nuanced. I will say it this way: all of the Bible is perfect truth, and we are expected to trust it as God-breathed and beneficial for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3.16). But we also know this, just as clearly: when people first come to Christ, they often have an incomplete understanding of Christ and Christianity, and God needs to shape them, guide them into all truth (Jn. 16.13), and sanctify them (Jn. 17.17). I would venture a guess that all of us have, somewhere in us, misunderstandings about God and His Word that God is gradually and progressively teaching us.

In other words, if a young Christian doesn’t believe all of the Bible, I think he/she is still a Christian, and in the course of time God will convince that individual of the inspiration of ALL of Scripture. It is expected that all of us buy into ALL of Scripture. But suppose that person never comes to that point? I don’t think they lose their salvation. Salvation is never predicated on our view of Scripture. But I would say that person is going to have an inadequate view of God, I would include a wrong view of Scripture, and their deprecatory view of the inspiration of ALL of Scripture will have a detrimental effect on their Christianity and on any with whom they speak. But are they not saved? I would never say that. Lots of Christians are still saved even though they give in to temptation, indulge in various sins, have a distorted view of God or Scripture, or don’t in some way subscribe to the whole “Christianity” package. Salvation is never conditioned by being 100% orthodox (that unless you have it all you have nothing).

Now, I would also say, in agreement with your husband, that if someone starts setting him- or herself up as the authority to decide what is God-breathed and what is not, now we have a real problem. If you deny any of it, you set yourself up as arbiter of truth and falsehood, and I believe that place belongs to God alone. That’s why I think it’s really important that we accept all of Scripture as the perfect Word of God. If we open the door for humans to decide, we’ve opened Pandora’s Box of discrediting any portion we choose to discredit, a most dangerous trend.

So you see why I would call my response “nuanced.” The ideal that is expected is not the only possibility. God in His grace allows us to hold less-than-satisfying positions without jeopardizing our salvation.

Feel free to respond, disagree, or ask more questions.
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Re: Do I have to believe the WHOLE Bible to be a Christian?

Postby Jilly » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:49 am

Thank you for expressing more eloquently than I can the same view I hold. And thank you for holding the same attitude of grace that I believe is so critical for us to have when dealing with young Christians. I still don't understand why my husband was so adamant about what he said, especially since my sister was not trying to teach anyone anything or hold herself up as especially knowledgeable. The topic just came up when she and I were discussing some teaching from the Bible, and then again when my husband was using the Bible as his authority with regard to respecting government. My sister blasts Trump with all kinds of comments and harsh political cartoons on Facebook and thinks Obama was wonderful. My husband decided he couldn't keep silent because of her terrible Christian witness online. I tried to explain why his argument, based on Scripture, would not convince her. She had told me she didn't believe it was the word of God, rather something written by good men, but not perfect. He was very respectful and kind, but his argument would not be accepted by her because of her very strong feelings against Trump and because she doesn't hold to the Bible as being a perfect authority. That's what started our disagreement. We finally just agreed to disagree. I wanted to confirm that my thinking wasn't incorrect, so thank you for your discussion. This is exactly what I believe to believe the Bible teaches. I probably won't show this to him because I don't want to cause any kind of rift between you two, just wanted to feel secure in my own reasoning. I have nowhere near the Biblical background he has, and was not raised in a Christian home, so I appreciate the confirmation of the accuracy of my own understanding. Thank you for the time and effort you always take when it comes to God's word.
Jilly
 

Re: Do I have to believe the WHOLE Bible to be a Christian?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:15 am

Glad to help, but sorry to hear there has been a family rift. Those always make me sad, but especially the ones fueled by politics. Ugh.

I often get told the idea of “The Bible is not the Word of God, it was just written by good men.” It’s held by people generally for two reasons: (1) They haven’t done enough research, and (2) they think the Bible has mistakes in it.

As to the first, the prophets say over and over and over, “And the Lord said…” So does Moses. It’s beyond obvious that they were not writing what they wanted, but instead what God told them to write. While the pen was in the hand of a human, the words had both divine source, initiative, authority and reliability. The Jewish people fully believed the entire OT was from God. Which books were to be included never varied and was never questioned. NT writers also believed the entire OT was from God. We hear their thoughts in verses like 2 Tim. 3.16 and 2 Pet. 1.21. Jesus also believed the entire OT was from the OT. So if you believe the prophets, Jesus, and Paul, you believe the entire OT has God as its source.

The NT writers also believed they were writing God’s words. Peter (2 Pet. 3.15-16) considers Paul’s writings to be on the same level as the OT Scripture. Paul also thought what he was writing was of the Lord (1 Cor. 14.37-38; 1 Thes. 2.13). He identifies his words with God’s words (1 Thes. 2.15). So also John in 1 Jn. 4.6). In Luke 1.-4, Luke says he is passing on reliable information as a writer of Scripture. In Rev. 1.1-3, John says his book came from God. And the Church saw those writings as Scripture, also. The writings of the Gospels, Paul's letters, and several others were recognized as authoritative when they were written. They were always accepted by the Church.

As to the second (“The Bible has mistakes in it”), people generally just have not researched the parts about which they complain. They are either parroting what they have heard others say, or they’re reading something superficially and never bother to figure out if there’s more information available or another way of looking at it.

Neither criticism (“The Bible is not the word of God,” and “the Bible has mistakes in”) holds up under examination, but lots of people don’t bother. They just accept that the Bible is flawed and go on their merry way.

Glad to converse with you. Write again anytime.
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