A guest column recently appeared in The Washington Post titled, “Why Doubting the Bible is Good for Christians: It Lets People Ponder Their Faith Without Losing It.” The author argues that doubting God’s Word can be a good thing. His own doubting resulted in losing his faith before he came back to a belief in God, though not necessarily a belief in Christ.
The columnist writes that it fascinates him how people decide which parts of the Bible “must be understood as literal accounts of historical events and which may be interpreted as mythic, metaphorical or exaggerated.” Now some Christians do indeed just pick and choose which parts of the Bible they want to believe. This is usually because they come to the text with outside beliefs (millions of years, no miracles, and so on) and not because the text itself suggests that they shouldn’t believe something.
Proper hermeneutics (biblical interpretation), however, demands we interpret each genre (type) of Scripture by the rules of that genre. This is no different from how we read a love letter, an instruction manual, and a newspaper in completely different ways. For example, when the Bible uses historical narrative, such as in Genesis, the Book of Judges, or the Book of Matthew, we interpret it as literal history. Or when the Bible uses poetry, such as in Psalms or Song of Solomon, we interpret it as poetry (realizing that biblical poetry conveys a literal truth but may use poetic or phenomenological language). Because Jesus spoke in parables, some people claim that perhaps Genesis is a parable! But Jesus either stated or made it obvious when He was using a parable! Usually it’s fairly easy to determine what genre is being used and to interpret the text accordingly.
There’s no need for us to arbitrarily pick and choose what we’re going to believe in the Bible. All Scripture is from God (2 Timothy 3:16), and since God does not lie (Titus 1:2), we know all of it to be true.
The author goes on to mention that most Christians believe that Jesus literally rose from the dead, but that many Christians reject other biblical accounts such as Jesus’ miracles, Jonah and the fish, or others. But through his academic studies, he realized that if these accounts weren’t literally true, why would the Resurrection be true? And he rejected all of it.
Sadly we see this kind of thinking all the time. Many pastors, Christian college professors, and other Christians also reject the truth of Genesis, Old Testament history, or even some of the events in the life of Christ but say that the Resurrection actually happened. But if God lied to us in some places in the Bible, why should we believe what He says in other passages such as the account of the Resurrection? It’s a slippery slope from rejecting some parts of the Bible to rejecting all of it. And we’re now seeing the consequences of the last generation’s unbelief in the hearts and minds of this generation.
I remember the time a young lady came up to me after I had spoken at a church. She told me that the pastor of the church she was attending taught that Genesis wasn’t literal history, and that she could add evolution and millions of years to the Bible and reinterpret Genesis accordingly. She went up to the pastor and said, “So tell me: when does God start telling the truth then?”
As Christians, we need to stand firmly on all of God’s Word. We don’t have the option to pick and choose what we want to believe. God’s Word doesn’t give us that option: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16; emphasis added).
We provide many print, web, video, and audio resources that Christians can use to equip themselves to stand on all of God’s Word. One resource that I recommend is my Foundations DVD set. These DVDs look to God’s Word to provide a firm foundation and solid answers to the most common questions and issues in our Western cultures. Foundations and many other solid, Bible-upholding resources are available in our online store.
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.