Does the Bible Contain False Statements?

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As we read Job, we need to keep in mind that not all statements—with the exception of God’s own words in chapters 38–42)—necessarily express divine truth, but all are correctly recorded.

Dear AIG,

I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I am a frequent visitor of your website and have listened to many DVDs from you ministry.

Recently I listen to: Dr. Jason Lisle regarding Creation Astronomy dated Sept 26, Part 1. The point on the Audio that I am refereeing to can be found at 0:13:28-0:13-40.

Dr Lisle quotes from the book of Job 26:7 and makes a most shocking and dangerous and heretical statement. He says that Job said this not God, so we must be careful Carful ?

If ALL scripture is not the Inspired Word of God (2Tim 3:16), then we have a huge problem! So before I get to carried away, can you please explain His statement to me. If a baby Christian or unsaved person hears this, they might wonder if AIG doubts that Gods word is Gods word and that Soul might be lost or lead astray.

Please clarify this for me.

PS! If Dr. Lisle made a mistake, then perhaps he needs to correct it as wide openly as possible to try and rectify this gross error. In all love and truth!

Eph 4:15

Greetings, R.H. I am pleased that you find our materials helpful.

Though your question is not a lengthy point, I am afraid my reply is going to have to be more lengthy. My reply involves our whole approach to interpreting the book of Job. This is important, because of your accusation of heresy, which is a very serious accusation.

The Remarkable Record of Job

Far from being an engaging fable, the account of Job in the Bible is one of the most historically and scientifically accurate records of the ancient world. Perhaps the oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job touches on many subjects of science and history: an ice age and hydrologic processes in the oceans, to accounts of cave-dwelling people.

This commentary on the controversial book of Job, by the late Dr. Henry Morris, is very different from most of the seminary and church teachings so prevalent today, for it attests to the historicity of a man named Job who understood at the end of his life that God cannot be “figured out,” but He can most certainly be trusted. Order online!

Many liberal scholars have suggested that the book of Job was written about 400 BC, during the time of the exile. Even conservative scholars have often placed its authorship late, perhaps during the reign of Solomon. However, in his excellent book The Remarkable Record of Job, the late Dr. Henry Morris advances the strong argument, which I find completely convincing, that the book was written very early. Morris points out that much of the detail probably needed to have been compiled by eye witnesses. Perhaps Job’s comment in Job 19:23–24 (“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever!”) is an indication that Job himself was the author.

Now, it is possible for someone like myself, who takes a conservative view of Scripture, to make this extraordinary claim: Not everything said in the book of Job is correct. Have I made a heretical statement? On the contrary; there are contradictory things said in the book by his “comforters.” The contradictory statements cannot all be true. Morris, in Remarkable Record, puts it like this:

All the discourses are divinely inspired in the sense of being correctly reported, but they often illumine the faulty reasonings and attitudes of fallible human beings rather than the inerrant revelations of an infallible God. (p. 19)

Part of the subtlety of the errors espoused by Job’s “comforters” is that their errors are mixed with half-truths. So when Eliphaz, in his discourse in chapter 4, opines: “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? If He puts no trust in His servants, If He charges His angels with error, How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, Whose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before a moth?” his words initially sound spiritual. On analysis, however, we realize that, as a statement of God’s character, they are inadequate, saying nothing of God’s grace and love. Moreover, Eliphaz and his friends tell untruths about Job’s character. Therefore, while the words of Job’s comforters are included by God’s inspiration to teach us, the actual statements themselves may not be correct. To give a more extreme example from elsewhere in Scripture, there is a passage that reads, “There is no God.” However, when we turn to Psalm 14:1 (NIV), we find it actually says “The fool says in his heart ‘There is no God’.” The (accurately) reported speech of Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu cannot be taken as statements of truth. Rather, the truth that we learn from their words is often the opposite of what they actually say.

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N.H., Boryung, South Korea

Even the words of Job himself are not without error. In Job 3:1 he “cursed the day of his birth.” Granted, he did not follow his wife’s advice to “curse God and die,” but the cursing (although not explicitly worded in Job 3:1) is still a momentary lapse from truth, even from this godly man. A second, slightly amusing example of not taking Job’s words too literally (in this case as a command) is that some have suggested it is wrong to eat boiled eggs for breakfast without salt, citing Job 6:6 as the proof text!

The purpose of this analysis is to show that we must indeed be careful when we quote verses from Job. Morris says:

As we read Job, we need to keep in mind that not all statements—with the exception of God’s own words in chapters 38–42)—necessarily express divine truth, but all are correctly recorded by divine inspiration. … Each passage must be evaluated on its own merits, in its own context, and in the broader context of Scripture as a whole. (p. 21)

This brings us to Dr Lisle’s comments about Job 26:7. What he actually said was: “I grant you it’s kind of a poetic statement, and it’s made by Job, not God, so we have to be a little bit careful, but it does sound as though these ancient people knew something about astronomy.” Jason is actually quoting the verse approvingly, because it says:

He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.

The verse seems to give biblical warrant for the concept that the Earth is a sphere in space. Jason is merely acknowledging the care that must be taken in interpreting the verse, because it is part of Job’s discourse, not God’s speech. To argue that Job’s own words in the book of Job must be treated with care is not to argue against the inspiration of Scripture. In my view, Jason was entirely correct, not only to say what he did, but to say it in the way that he did. A correct interpretation of Job’s words can only be made by exercising that sort of hermeneutical care.

I hope you will recognize from what I have written that Jason’s remarks about Job 26:7 are not in the least shocking or heretical, but are carefully considered words from a man who is committed to the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. Therefore, I entreat you in love and trust to reconsider or withdraw your allegation. Moreover, I hope you will recognize that my words are also written in the light of Ephesians 4:15, with which you ended your email.

Yours sincerely in Christ,
Paul Taylor, AiG–UK


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