Can You Trust the Bible?

variantsMany people who don’t know better (and some who do) say the Bible is full of errors and can’t be relied on historically and scientifically, much less for our eternal destiny.

What many of these people (and many more) don’t understand is that you will never find a book with more ancient manuscripts closer to its original age, with fewer copying errors–ANYWHERE. There are more ancient text available for comparison to one another for the Bible than there are for any other ancient book–including the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

And of the variations in the thousands of different texts available, those variances are so small that they do not affect in the slightest its historical accuracy, its scientific accuracy, its moral accuracy, or its theological accuracy.

Ted Cruz 2016

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Since even in modern times (with computers and modern printers), reprinting errors creep in to texts, yet ancient hand-copied texts have so few reprinting errors, one might almost say the Bible’s accuracy is miraculous.

You can bet your life on it…and you can bet your death on its reliability.



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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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  • DCM7

    And yet there’s always some self-declared genius claiming he knows of some “error” in the Bible, as if no one’s ever been aware of it before. And, inevitably, it turns out to be something that (1) isn’t an error at all; (2) has been known for ages not to be an error; and (3) doesn’t even resemble any kind of error that someone would actually make.

  • franklinb23

    How are you defining “error”?

    The story of the woman taken in adultery is widely considered to be of questionable authenticity as it was never in the earliest manuscripts. Conservapedia (a right-wing version of Wiki) seems to imply it should simply be stricken from Scripture altogether: http://conservapedia.com/Essay:Adultress_Story

    Is this an “error”? Maybe not if you insist that the original manuscripts are without error. Since no one actually has the original manuscripts, I’m not sure what that argument gets you.

    Here’s a better one: the Gospel of Luke claims that Christ was born during a census which we know from historical records took place after King Herod died (and after the reign of his successor Archelaus). However, the Gospel of Matthew claims that Christ was born when Herod was still alive.

    True, these are not major doctrinal issues, but they do raise some questions about the reliability of Scripture’s historical claims … and historical claims should be the easiest to verify (as opposed to supernatural claims).

    • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

      When we say that the Bible is without error, it is meant that the original autographs (or original copies) were without error.

      But just as even a book written in more modern times can still have errors creep into the text due to human error or technical error, the possibility of that was even greater in an age where everything had to be hand-copied from one text to another.

      The fact that such a tiny number of variances can be found in the ancient texts is pretty much miraculous in and of itself.

      It is not known whether the passage about the woman taken in adultery was inserted later (and thus should NOT be in the authoritative text), or whether it was there, and got left out in later ones due to a copying omission. Some believe that it may have been inserted “in the margins” at some point, like many study Bibles today have references and additional material in the margins, and perhaps then in a subsequent copy, a transcriber “accidentally” or due to lack of diligence inserted it into the main text and then in subsequent copies it became accepted as inspired and authoritative text. And even if it was not in the original inspired text, we still do not know that this incident DIDN’T happen.

      Regardless, there is nothing whatsoever in that passage or in any other variance which rises to the level of a verifiable historical or scientific error, nor does this or any other variance rise to the level of a theological error that would lead someone astray morally or with regard to their eternal destiny.

      Regarding the census issue, I have heard a few explanations over the years. I don’t know if this (http://www.comereason.org/bibl_cntr/con100.asp) is the best one (I can’t remember all the details of what I’ve heard before), but it does point out that while there are some details of a SEEMING contradiction, events occuring over an extended period of time (e.g. there were several “Herods” around the time of Christ) likely make it difficult to be sure that there is an ACTUAL contradiction. There may be facts and specifics of subsequent censuses, or local censuses, that are not clearly known. When we look back and specific details from 2,000 years away, there is a lot of room for missing important historical facts that complete a picture. One would assume, though, that since the Gospels were written originally about 50 years or less from the time of Jesus’ birth, such facts would have been widely known back then, and any such errors would have undermined the credibility of the gospels in the minds of contemporaries-and I am unaware of any such contemporary charges of inaccuracy from the people of that time who would have read the Gospels.

      What I DO know is that there have been countless “contradictions” supposedly identified in the Bible, and while some are still “up in the air” (for lack of conclusive evidence one way or another), many of these “contradictions” have later been proven to be no contradiction at all, once other facts were later uncovered.

      The Bible is undoubtedly authoritative historically, scientifically and morally. I’ve approached it with a skeptical mind before I accepted God’s truth, I continue to look at it objectively even today, and have decided with full confidence to bet my life today, and my eternal life, on its accuracy.

      • franklinb23

        So I take it you’re a “young Earth Creationist” and that stuff like carbon dating is about as reliable as astrology?

        Can one not believe the Earth is hundreds of thousands of years old (as scientist and Christian Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project does) and still be a “true Christian”?

        Even if we admit to the Bible being infallible, all our work is still ahead of is. We still have the issue of interpretation. Are the Cavlinists who believe in Limited Atonement correct, or are the evangelicals and Catholics right (who disagree with this)? What about the cessationists like John MacArthur? He thinks Pentecostals and sympathetic Protestants like Mark Driscoll are in gross error and heresy, possibly to the point of soul-damning heresy.

        So … this is why I’m come to see Scripture as helpful in providing insight into human spirituality and ethics, but hardly reliable in the same way a cookbook or instruction manual is helpful.
        That is … unless you wish to assert that infallibility is guaranteed to human believers (and I don’t know anyone who would make that claim).

        • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

          Yes, I am a young Earth creationist, and C14 and other radiometric dating techniques ARE about as reliable as astrology (well, maybe slightly more).

          Yes, one can believe that Earth is hundreds of thousands, even millions or billions of years old, and still be a genuine Christian. I was one about 15 years ago, when I didn’t know any better. I was a theistic evolutionist, not aware of the myriad of problems and contradictions with evolution, not aware that evolution/naturalism/materialism are contradicted by scientific evidence, and not aware that scientifically viable theories that are in harmony with the Bible actually existed.

          Yes, “interpretation” is necessary for ANY method or instance of communication. Perhaps the most critical step in understanding any communication is to receive it CONTEXTUALLY, or to “interpret” each word and statement in context with the broader message.

          For example, how would you contextually “interpret” the word “day” in the following sentence:

          “Back in my father’s day, it took 10 days to drive across the continental United States during the day.”

          Does the word “day” here mean “a 24 hour day,” or does it mean “a time period when the sun is visible” or does it mean “an unspecified amount of contemporary time”?

          The answer is “yes.”

          Contextually, the first use of the word “day” means “an unspecified amount of contemporary time” while the second use means “24 hour period” and the third means “a time when the sun is visible.”

          Once we read contextually, many things become much, much, clearer (like the fact that the context of the creation week in genesis obviously means six 24-hour days.

          Not all things are so easy to glean, even contextually. Especially advanced theological topics which are not spelled out with more specificity in the Bible. We simply don’t have enough information to be certain, and good people can often reach somewhat different conclusions and still be within the framework that IS provided by Scripture. As Apostle Paul once said, we see now “through a glass, darkly.” We don’t have all the information, and we do not have the understanding necessary to be sure of ALL of God’s truth that we would like to.

          Consider the voluminous amount of information available in places like the Library of Congress and other repositories of what we have come to understand about the universe around us-and they only scratch the surface of all there is to know. Creating a Bible to answer ALL of our questions would take a library the size of a planet.

          But we have more than enough information provided in the Bible to know where we came from, what went wrong with the corrupted world in which we now live, what the solution is to escape the problems of this world, and our eventual destiny. Just as a soldier isn’t taught everything there is to know in basic training, so we do not have the answer to every conceivable question or issue now. That is why committed Christians spend the rest of their lives in prayer and prayerful study of the Bible, seeking out the proper understanding of all those questions with the help of God’s Spirit.