Is the Bible Truly “Infallible”?

I came across a radio preacher on my way home from work one night scanning through the FM stations. He was using scriptures from the Bible to “prove” that the Bible was the “infallible Word of God.”

He was quoting Scriptures like:

All Scripture is inspired by God…” 2 Timothy 3:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Wait. Let’s be real. This verse begs so many questions. What “Scripture” is Paul referring to here? Well, he’s not referring to the Big Black Book you have collecting dust on your night stand, because he didn’t have one of those. It was organized and bound long after Paul penned those words to Timothy.

The preacher was quoting an Old Testament Psalmist who says “The Law of the Lord is Perfect” as more “proof.” But the Psalmist is obviously speaking of the Law of Moses which we Christians don’t hold to anymore anyway (at least we shouldn’t).

Enough with the nonsense. This type of “preaching to the choir” proof of Scripture has to stop. There are two problems here. One is obvious, one is ironic:

First of all and obviously, this “logic” of selling the Bible with the Bible is an absurd argument. Do we seriously think we are going to convince people to believe the Bible because of some random verses it contains? If I write the following: “Everything I write in this post is true,” do you now feel inclined to take MY words as gospel?

Secondly, and ironically, not only is it silly to use verses in the Bible to prove that the Bible is “Infallible,” the truth is…

The Bible is Not Infallible.

If we have any hope of this current generation taking The Gospel of Jesus Christ seriously  we are going to have to come clean about the inconsistencies and flaws the Bible contains.

Is every last word in our Protestant Bible true and accurate? No.

What the What?! 

“But the Bible is the Perfect Word of God! Every word in it is breathed by God himself,” you say.If every word contained in the Protestant 66 books are truly God’s Own Words, apparently He enjoys contradicting himself, and He can’t remember who died when and how much money was paid for what. If God wrote it, He really should have got himself an editor.

Okay, maybe you’re getting offended right now and your “heresy meter” is starting to go off. Let’s just be objective and take a look.

Really? No Errors Anywheres? 

Here’s the definition of Infallible:

:  incapable of error : unerring :  not liable to mislead, deceive, or disappoint :  certain

By this definition the Bible can not be called infallible. Consider the following examples. We’ll start with some simple ones that involve numbers that just don’t jive.

Money for a Floor: In 2nd Samuel 24:24  David buys the “threshing floor” from Arahuah. He pays 50 shekels of silver.

In 1st Chronicles 21:22-25, a different account of the same story, it is indicated that David pays 600 shekels of gold for the property.

How many stalls? 1st Kings 4:26 gives account of the 40,000 stalls Solomon had for his horses.

2nd Chronicles 9:25 states Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his horses.

A Dead King Rages? In 1st Kings 16:6-8 we are told Baasha, King of Israel dies and his son Elah takes his throne in the 26th year of Asa, King of Judah’s reign.

But in 2nd Chronicles 16:1 we are told King Baasha fortified Ramah against King Asa in the 36th year of King Asa’s reign. Baasha is alive and well 10 years after 1st Kings tells us he died?

Are these transcription errors? I don’t know, but they are errors. The Holy Scripture, supposedly perfect, has some peculiarly irregular accounting errors.

One Sin…Okay, Maybe Two: Now how about 1st Kings 15:5 where we are told, “David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite,” (NASB, italics mine).

For those of you not familiar with the Sunday School Story: Uriah was the first husband of Bathsheba, whom David had killed to cover up the fact she was pregnant with David’s child. Definitely a shameful act which the writer of 1st Kings is not willing to overlook.

But wait, 2nd Samuel 24:10-17 details the account of how David sinned in taking a census of his people against the Lord’s wishes. And it must have been a bad sin too, because 70,000 people ended up dead because of it.

Why does the writer of 1 Kings bother being so emphatic about David obeying God in everything, save one thing, if that is simply not true?

If every word of the Bible was effectively written by God himself, and God is perfect and true, why is the text not consistent and accurate?

If the Bible is not even accurate with numbers, how can we believe anything else it says? I know this is a very scary thought for those of us who have based our entire lives and way of thinking on the belief that everything in the Bible is true.

Most of us Christians  like to think our faith is completely rooted in a personal faith in Christ Jesus himself. But if we are honest, we will see that in most cases our faith is completely contingent on this idea that the Bible is the actual unerring Word of God. Take away the belief that every word of the Bible was “breathed by God” and most of us would be lost and confused.

How Did We Get Here? -or- Why Are Preachers So Chicken Shit? 

Why are our Christian Leaders not willing to face the inconsistencies in the Bible?  Have they really been studying it and not noticed? How can preachers be selling the Bible saying every word is true when it is clearly not? Maybe it’s because they don’t think we can handle the Truth. Maybe it’s because Christianity is a multi-billion dollar industry and they would all lose their jobs. Maybe its because without that Big Black Book  they wouldn’t have anything to beat you over the head.

I discovered some Bible inconsistencies years ago on my own, but I was completely unaware of the majority of the scripture examples I shared earlier in this blog post until a few short weeks ago. Can we at least admit how stupid we Christians look to insist that every word of the Bible is true when not even the numbers and dates are consistent? I hope you opened the Bible for yourself and looked up the verses I quoted above.

My Motivation: Why am I writing this? Why do I feel compelled to publicly challenge this Book we all pull so much faith from? I’m not challenging the narrative of the Bible. I’m challenging the way the Truth of the Scripture has been sold to us and how we continue to sell it. To be believers in God and His Christ must we really believe that every last word of the Bible was breathed by God?

Consider the introduction Luke writes to his Gospel clearly admitting he was not an eyewitness and that he consulted multiple sources for his book.

I feel compelled to start this conversation about the inconsistencies of the Bible for a very important reason:

I know people who grew up in church who have thrown out the Bible and it’s entire narrative when they discover the Scriptures don’t live up to the claim that they are “perfect” and “inerrant.” By selling them this idea that the words of the Bible are “infallible” we give them permission to throw out baby Jesus with the Holy Water.  Because if the claims we make about the Bible are not true, and inconsistencies are found, the logical thing for them to do is dismiss the Scripture and its Story entirely.

We are between a rock and a hard place. If we continue to insist on proving that the Bible is the Word of God because every word is unerring we will lose an entire generation of critical and objective thinkers, because it’s not. And if we want to “make disciples” as we have been instructed, we must look at these 66 books we call the Protestant Bible in a different light.

Personally, I’m not afraid to confront this idea that the Bible is not perfect. You know why? Because everything we humans believe we know is based on the words of another human being. It’s not the words that are important it’s The Source.

I believe the Biblical narrative is full of holes and errors so that we can look through it to understand it’s true message. Besides, the Bible is not the Word of God. John tells us the Word is God. God is the Word. In the beginning was the Word. Am I set free by words on a page or the Truth they contain?

In my opinion, The God who created Heaven and Earth didn’t bother to make the words of the various writings match because truth is not found in “jots and tittles.”

Personally, I want to know the truth at all costs. I want “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” Even the truth about the Truth. Because if I know the truth, The Truth will make me free.

Do you want to be free? I pray you do.

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12 thoughts on “Is the Bible Truly “Infallible”?

  1. Michael says:

    Excellent observations, Kristopher! I had already come to similar conclusions–from a different angle–and hope that you are able to convince some folks. It is indeed liberating to see the text as a great story containing truth rather than a glowing artifact. I also find that it is hardest to communicate these ideas to people who have never bothered to read much literature, or to study a different language, which is why I am on a permanent campaign to get people reading novels and studying German (my hobby horse).

    • I love reading secular success books. It turns out you don’t have to be a Christian to plant a seed and watch it grow. I like your phrase “glowing artifact.” I love the thought of liberating those under Gothard’s spell. The dark ages are over. We can read the Bible for ourselves. The guy on the podium doesn’t know more about God than we do.

      I love catching up with you after all these years. You have always been a free thinker with a great sense of humor. Long live “Handy Dandy Helium Candy!”

  2. Exactly. The church spends far too much time defending fundamentalist thinking, than seeking truth. What are they so afraid of? Faith should be in God, not madmade dogmas.
    The Bible is the place we should begin questioning & researching as we seek for truth.

  3. Doug Cornwell says:

    Good evening Kristofer.
    First of all, congratulations on beginning your public writing! Now the fun begins. I started at the top and by the 4th paragraph, have to start with my disagreements with what you said in your tome. First of all, what “Scripture” was Paul talking about in this letter? He was referring to what we call today as the “Tanach” which is known in English speaking circles as “The Old Testament”. That is all that Paul had to refer to and all that was known at the time this letter was written. Go back to verse 10 before the verse you mentioned and you will see Paul referring to what every good “Jew” was taught from. Vs 14 and 15 set this out directly:
    “But you keep on in what you learned and were assured of, knowing from whom you learned,and that from a babe you know the Holy Scriptures, those being able to make you wise to salvation through belief in Christ Jesus.”
    At the time Paul wrote this, the only training was in the Synagog and they were taught from the Old Testament only. Paul mentions this throughout this letter. The translation from Aramaic does a much better job of rendering this verse:
    “All Scripture that was written by the Spirit is profitable for instruction and for decisive refutation, and for correction, and for deep extensive learning in righteousness”. All Scripture …written by the Spirit…”. That means that there is Scripture that was written by man as well as what was written by the Spirit. Big difference from how the NASB sets it out and that begins a look at what you base your discussion on. Not all of the Old Testament was written by the Hand of Elohim. Therefore, since it was not all written by YHWH alone, there will be discrepancies,
    differences and mis-statements of facts.

    Next was your reference to the “Law of Moses”. Again, these words are the victims of the English speaking translators of what we call “The Bible”. When translated by a Hebrew, that word is “Torah” and it literally means “The Instructions”. These were the instructions that YHWH gave to Moses to teach to the people in the desert and includes the words “Forever and for all your generations” in many places and after many different directions. That is right, “Forever” was the word. Kris, when does “forever” end? You said that we “shouldn’t” be “holding to” these writings. Why not? When did “forever” end? Yeshua himself said that He came “not to end Torah but to fulfill it”. Our problem is that we began to decide which parts we wanted to agree with and which we would throw out. In my opinion, the only thing that we need to throw out is the page between Malachi and Matthew. The narrative is a continuous line … not an “Old” and “New” thing.

    We are called to serve”the Elohim of Abraham, Issac and Jacob” Our English translation renders Him as “God” but this is the name of a Germanic mythological figure…His Name is written as “YHWH” and translates roughly as Yahweh, though there are various ways of pronouncing His name. The Bible says that YHWH saw our condition and came Himself to provide a restoration to the relationship between Himself and us through His provision. “Yeshua” actually means “The Salvation of Yah”. The whole book from Genesis through the Acts of the Apostles is the story of the separation between YHWH and mankind and how YHWH dealt with that separation.

    Now, lets look at “errors and inconsistencies”. Does a different number of the stables in Solomon’s stables affect the Salvation message contained in the Tanach or the writings collected as the “New Testament”? Does the amount of money recorded in two places affect the substitutional payment of our penalty by Yeshua? Will a wrong reference negate what Yeshua taught while He was here to correct the separation from the Commandments of YHWH and the Jewish people? Of course not. It is only when we teach from a position of ignorance about the Bible that any of this makes a difference.

    All that is needed is to obey what we were told by YHWH about how to live our lives. That and acknowledging that we need to stay inside the Redemption provided by YHWH. Very simple…Trust and obey! Just do it and all the nonsense about what the errors are will go away.

  4. Bill Betzler says:

    “If God wrote it, He really should have got himself an editor.”

    Kristofer, you will never be given the truth my mocking God. You have a problem with the Christian church.

    Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. Without that your current exercise, though it be valid to a point, will die on the vine.

    Not withstanding Doug’s words which are good, let this blog determine what is necessary to be Christian and obtain eternal life. I would like to start if that is OK.

    Psa_111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
    Pro_1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    I think these two verses need to be at the beginning of our new church.

    • Thanks Bill for your comment. Yes, there is a huge problem in the American Church. We can’t even come close to agreeing with each other and we all claim the same Bible. Something is wrong. Maybe it’s because we are missing the forrest for the trees. The message is clear and it’s one that should unite us.
      I’m not saying the Bible does not contain truth. I agree with what you said, “God is above it all.” He didn’t care to make his manuscript perfect. The message is the more important thing.

      • Bill Betzler says:

        My statement said that the Church has faults not the Scriptures. The apostle Paul acknowledged that every great house has vessels of honor and dishonor just a few years after Jesus left this earth. Pastors will be some of those people. The wheat and the chaff grow together as per Jesus.

        I actually think that the manuscript is perfect. I think that it is imperfect people reading it. Mostly me. Just remember that there was over a thousand years between Moses and Jesus, yet Jesus never complained about any transcription problems. I don’t think we should either.

      • Bill, but the manuscripts are not technically perfect. But God probably didn’t intend for them to be. Just like some would argue the lineage of Jesus is not perfect. I mean not perfect as most of us would expect the lineage of God’s Son to be. You’ll find Rahab the Prostitute and King David the adulterer amongst Jesus’ direct relatives.
        I’m just pointing out that the Bible is not “technically” perfect, as many claim it is.

  5. Bill Betzler says:

    I decided to look at the the “stall problem.” Personally, I would say that Solomon had 4,000 stalls that had 40,000 stalls to hold 40,000 horses. Therefore one building on average held 10 horses. Since the Bible doesn’t explicitly tell us this is the case, I don’t know for sure. But on the other hand, the Bible hasn’t told me that one of these verses contains an error, therefore I would not assume an error.

    Also, Kristoper, don’t be beguiled by atheist who tell you that you must look at the Bible from a worldly view and somehow if you do they will become believers–they are liars. Don’t be fooled by them dismissing the Bible because it is a circular argument. God and His ways are not to be analyzed by scientific method or some worldly philosophically accepted norm. God is above all of that, He created it, we are people of faith and not logic. Yet we can and do reason.

  6. nickreid1 says:

    Great stuff, Kris. I grew up trying to defend the Bible, but I came to realize that I simply could not account for every inconsistency it contains. My first reaction was diminished faith in God. As you wrote, many people become disillusioned, angry, or simply walk away from God when they discover problems with the “infallible” view of the Bible and traditional doctrines. Having wrestled with these feelings, I believe now that the Bible is an invitation to relationship with God, not an encyclopedia reference for doctrine created by people. It establishes a frame of reference in which we can experience God and discover truth.

    • Nick, we have come so far, haven’t we? No regrets though. I hope you don’t either. I think one of the main lessons I’ve learned about myself and God is neither of us fits in a neat and clean package. I like your doctrine comment. Doctrine is man’s way of trying to make a one-size-fits-all truth box. There is way to much intellectual gymnastics going on as they try connecting the dots of an imperfect document.

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