The Bible: Library or Book?

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on August 27, 2011
Featured in News to Know

Galileo groans as he’s trotted out again.

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Dr. Karl Giberson, writing in the Huffington Post, continues his assault on the historicity of Adam and Eve. He cajoles Christians with faulty history and condescending metaphors teaching half-truths about God’s Word.

Giberson trots out Galileo to accuse Christians of using the Bible to ignore real science. He says that the Church’s literal interpretation of Psalm 93 was its basis for persecuting Galileo. Giberson writes:

The Bible was quite clear that the earth was fixed and said so in so many words: “The earth is fixed and cannot be moved” wrote the Psalmist with unfortunate clarity in chapter 93.

First, Giberson ignores the history. Galileo was not persecuted on the basis of the Bible, but on the basis of unbiblical Aristotelian ideas the Roman Catholic Church had adopted. The Bible was not the problem. The problem was that the Church mingled the Bible with pagan science.

While accusing creationists of ignoring ordinary principles of good reading, like attention to “culture, author intent, literary form, historical setting, anticipated audience and so on,” Giberson himself ignores the context, accusing Psalm 93 of “unfortunate clarity.” A quick reading of Psalm 93:1-2, however, reveals that the eternality of the Lord’s reign is being proclaimed. In stating, “Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. Your throne is established from old,” the Hebrew writer used a word meaning “shaken by outside forces.” In other words, neither the world God made nor His sovereignty can be disturbed or destroyed by outside forces. The meaning is clear from the context without even looking up the Hebrew. The passage does not mean the earth does not move unless the careless reader removes it from context.

Giberson concedes that the Adam-issue is theologically significant because of the connection to Christ. But he trivializes that significance by saying, “There are biblical references to Adam and Eve that, if taken literally, suggest they were real people. But these references are no more compelling than those made by the Psalmist to a fixed earth.”

Finally, Giberson concludes by likening the Bible to a library. A library contains many genres—and the Bible does. But he mentions this library also contains some works of fiction and adds, “The assumption that identifying one part as fiction undermines the factual character of another part is ludicrous.”

God did not dabble in fiction when He gave us His Word.

God did not dabble in fiction when He gave us His Word. He used around 40 writers to pen His Word over the course of 1500 years, yet the entire Bible is internally consistent even in the fine points of chronology. Its prophecies are true. When it speaks of science, it describes what we see in the world.

Jesus, Peter, and Paul treated Genesis as the foundation of New Testament theology. Jesus referred to Adam and Eve as real people (Matthew 19:4) created in the beginning. Peter prophesied (2 Peter 3:5–6) of the time when the world would deny the Creation and the Flood. Paul explained the origin of death (Romans 5:14–19), the Curse on Creation (Romans 8:20–22), and the role of Jesus Christ as the Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:21–22) on the basis of a factual Genesis. Jesus said, “For if you believed Moses,you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46).

Like the Church in Galileo’s day, many Christians today try to blend Christianity with “contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20). They confuse the observable facts of science with faith-based worldview-dependent assertions and interpretations. And they ultimately compromise with the world and undermine their own faith and the faith of others. We need to stand firmly on God’s Word, studying it carefully, reading it naturally, and never compromising what it says.

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