Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Does Faith Lead to Regeneration or Vice Versa? Part 2



EPHESIANS 2:5

One of the verses – perhaps the verse – that is most appealed to in support of the view that regeneration leads to faith is Ephesians 2:5. 

In Ephesians 2:4-5 Paul writes: 
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in transgressions, made us alive with Christ (by grace you have been saved), . . .’ 
The argument made

Those who claim that these words show that regeneration leads to faith argue as follows:

Verse 5 speaks about people who are spiritually dead.  Dead means completely unable, so the people in view must be unable to have faith.  Therefore, when this passage tells us that God makes the spiritually dead alive, i.e., regenerates them, it must be without any faith on their part.  Besides, there is no reference to faith in this verse.

This argument is far too simplistic and makes some unwarranted assumptions.  There are several points to make here:

No Greek word for ‘when’

The first point is a minor one.

The Greek clause I have translated as ‘even when we were dead in transgressions’ is literally translated as ‘even us being dead in transgressions’.

I agree that part of the sense is that Paul and his readers were made alive when they were dead in transgressions.  But the idea also seems partly to be that they were made alive although they were dead in transgressions.  ‘Even when we were dead in transgressions’ or ‘even though we were dead in transgressions’ are both possible translations.

My point here is just that there is no Greek word for ‘when’ in the text.  There is therefore a bit less emphasis on the making alive taking place when Paul and his readers were dead than translating with ‘when’ might suggest.

Uncertainty about the meaning of ‘dead’

Ephesians 2:5 includes the phrase ‘dead in transgressions’.  What does the deadness in this phrase refer to? 

It is a mistake simply to assume that it must mean inability to do something.  Romans 6:23 says that ‘the wages of sin is death’, where death signifies liability to condemnation and punishment.  And other verses in the Pauline letters refer to death similarly. 

It seems highly likely that in Ephesians 2:5 too ‘dead’ signifies liability to condemnation and punishment.  However, could this be all it signifies in this verse?  If so, the verse would be saying nothing about spiritual inability.

In my view ‘dead’ in Ephesians 2:5 very probably does in part signify spiritual inability.  But I don’t think that is completely certain.  It’s not impossible that the deadness here is just about being on track for punishment from God.

We mustn’t read too much into the imagery

‘Dead’ here is a metaphor.  And metaphors often don’t correspond exactly to the reality that they are portraying.

Furthermore, the Bible uses hyperbole, i.e., language that is deliberately exaggerated for effect, much more extensively than we are used to in the modern West. 

Therefore, even if ‘dead’ in Ephesians 2:5 includes the concept of spiritual inability, it is a mistake to assume that the people referred to as dead should be regarded as literally, totally, spiritually unable. 

Paul is giving a summary

Even if, improbably in my view, those described as dead in Ephesians 2:5 are totally unable in all spiritual matters, it is reading too much out of the text to say that no faith is involved when God makes people alive. 

When Paul says that God made him and his readers alive when/though they were dead in transgressions, he is just summarising what happened to them when they became Christians.  He is not attempting to explain in detail all that went on.  The initial state – being dead – and the final state – being alive – are referred to.  But to assume that God moved Paul and his readers directly from death to life without any faith on their part is completely unwarranted.

If God takes the initiative by awakening dead people and enabling them to have faith, and then responds to that faith by making them alive by regeneration, that would fit perfectly with what we are told in Ephesians 2:5.

Taking account of the context

The context of vv. 1-8 actually fits much better with the view that faith leads to regeneration than vice versa.

In Ephesians 2:5 the statement, ‘[God] made us alive with Christ’, is immediately followed in the Greek, as in some English translations, by the parenthetical statement, ‘(by grace you have been saved)’. 

The fact that these two statements are found one after the other without any words of explanation shows that there must be a close relationship between them.  It therefore doesn’t seem possible to understand the being made alive and the being saved as separate aspects of what goes on when someone becomes a Christian. 

Nor does it seem likely that the being made alive is a wider concept that includes the narrower concept of being saved.  Salvation in Scripture is often quite a broad term.  So to take being saved as a mere part of being made alive seems forced.

Instead, it seems most natural to understand the being saved here either as a rough equivalent of being made alive or as a wider term that includes being made alive.  Very probably, then, the being saved of v. 5 at least includes the being made alive of v. 5.

But we know from Ephesians 2:8 that being saved is through faith.  In this verse Paul says: 
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith . . .’ 
So if, as seems highly probable, the being saved of v. 5 at least includes the being made alive of v. 5, then in view of v. 8 we can say that this being made alive is through faith.  In other words, God responds to faith by giving regeneration.

The context in vv. 1-8, therefore, counts against the view that Ephesians 2:5 teaches that regeneration leads to faith.  In fact this context actually suggests that faith leads to regeneration.

Taking account of other passages in the letters of Paul

Most importantly, Ephesians 2:5 needs to be considered in the light of the rest of the Pauline letters, especially the rest of Ephesians itself.

Crucially, we have seen that there are good reasons for believing that Ephesians 1:13 strongly implies that faith leads to regeneration.  Therefore, we would expect 2:5 to be consistent with this.  And we would also expect it to fit with the Pauline Galatians 3:2, which, as we have seen, strongly implies that faith leads to regeneration.

Summing up

To sum up this section, then, not only is it a mistake to say that Ephesians 2:5 teaches that regeneration leads to faith, but there are very good reasons for believing that it teaches the opposite. 

1 JOHN 5:1

1 John 5:1 states: 
‘Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God.’ 
The argument made

Those who say that regeneration leads to faith often appeal to these words to support their view.  They claim that the words are telling us two things:

(1) Everyone who has faith has also been regenerated.

(2) Everyone who has faith does so because they have been regenerated.

1 John 2:29 and 1 John 4:7 are often brought in to support this argument. 

2:29 says: 
‘. . . everyone who practises uprightness has been born of Him [God].’  
And 4:7 states: 
‘. . . everyone who loves has been born of God.’ 
Those who refer to 1 John 2:29; 4:7 argue that these verses are saying two things: one, those who practise uprightness and love have also been regenerated; and, two, they do so because they have been regenerated.  And then they argue that the same train of thought must apply in 5:1 too: those who have faith have also been regenerated, and they have faith because they have been regenerated.

This interpretation is certainly not a forced way of taking these words in 1 John 5:1. 

However, there are a few points that need to be made:

Caution in drawing conclusions

It is not certain that in 1 John 2:29; 4:7 the author’s purpose is to tell us that those who practise uprightness and love do so because they have been regenerated. It is true that it would be correct theology to say that practising uprightness and loving are possible because someone has been regenerated. But that doesn’t mean that this is the author’s focus in these verses. It is possible that his focus is simply on the fact that those who practise uprightness and who love have also been regenerated.

What is more, even if the author’s purpose in 2:29 and 4:7 is in part to tell us that practising uprightness and love happen because someone has been regenerated, it doesn’t follow that the same grammatical structure must involve the same way of reasoning in 5:1 too.  The most we could say is that, all other things being equal, it is likely that the same way of reasoning would be found in 5:1, but this would need to be weighed against other factors.

Another plausible interpretation

Let me cite again the words from 1 John 5:1 that we are looking at in this section. They are: 
‘Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God.’ 
I noted above that those who see these words as support for the view that regeneration leads to faith think they are saying two things:

(1) Everyone who has faith has also been regenerated.

(2) Everyone who has faith does so because they have been regenerated.

However, we can just as easily interpret these words to be saying only the first of these things:

Everyone who has faith has also been regenerated.

In this case, nothing would be implied about the relationship between the faith and the regeneration.

This latter interpretation fits well with 1 John 5:13.  This verse states: 
‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.’  
This verse makes it clear that a key concern of the author of 1 John, probably the key concern, is to tell people that if they are believers in Jesus, then they have eternal life.  I suggest that in the words from 5:1 that we are looking at, the author is doing precisely what he says his aim is in 5:13, and is doing no more than that. 

In 1 John 5:1 he starts by referring to ‘everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah’.  He is letting his readers know that he is thinking of people like them, since they believe that Jesus is the Messiah and obviously they know that they believe this.

Then he says, ‘has been born of God’.  He is telling his readers something that he wants them to know, i.e., that all Christian believers have been born of God.  He could equally well have said, ‘has come into possession of eternal life’ or ‘has eternal life’.

We could paraphrase: 
‘You need to realise that you, like all Christian believers, have come into possession of eternal life.  You have eternal life!’ 
Under this interpretation, there is no attempt to comment on the relationship between faith and regeneration.  Regeneration is understood to have occurred at the time of conversion.  And although faith is referred to existing in the present, it too would be understood to have begun at the time of conversion.  Nothing about the relationship between the regeneration and the faith is implied. 

This interpretation is in no way forced.  And it fits perfectly with what we find in v. 13.

Fitting this verse with the rest of the Bible

When forming our views on something in Christian theology, we should always choose the path of least resistance, the solution that best fits all the biblical data.

If we were to interpret 1 John 5:1 as implying that regeneration leads to faith, we would be choosing to interpret it in a way that contradicts all the texts we have looked at which teach that faith leads to regeneration. 

Most importantly, we would be choosing to interpret this verse in a way that contradicts John’s Gospel.  And this is especially difficult, because 1 John and the Gospel of John are part of the same family of New Testament writings. 

Therefore, because, as we have seen, there is a plausible interpretation of this verse that does not suggest that regeneration leads to faith, we should certainly choose that one. 

Summing up

To sum up, then, 1 John 5:1 says nothing about the relationship between faith and regeneration.

CONCLUSION

That ends our analysis of the biblical data.  When all that we have discussed is taken into account, we should have no hesitation in saying that according to the Bible faith leads to regeneration.  God responds to our faith by regenerating us, by giving us His supernatural life.

So why is this important?

Not distorting the Christian message

To begin with, if we say that regeneration leads to faith, we are distorting the Christian message.  Part of this message is, ‘Believe and you will have life’, ‘Believe and you will have eternal life’, ‘Believe and you will be become a child of God’.  See John 1:12-13; 3:14-16; 5:40; 6:40; 20:31.  We need to keep this part of the message intact.

Not discouraging laying on of hands

Saying that regeneration leads to faith is also bound to discourage the practice of laying hands on new converts for them to receive the Holy Spirit.

Scripture implies that in the early church one way in which new converts first received the Spirit was through the laying on of hands.  See Acts 8:14-17; 19:6; Hebrews 6:1-2.  And there is no good reason for thinking that God wants us to abandon this practice today.

I am not saying that it is God’s will for every Christian to have hands laid on them for this purpose.  Nor am I saying that if hands are omitted when God wants them to be used, a new convert with saving faith would remain unregenerated. 

Nevertheless, I do think that some Christians today who have never had hands laid on them for this purpose tend to be rather lacking in their experience of the Spirit.  And saying that new Christians have received the Spirit in regeneration before they even had faith is bound to discourage the laying on of hands.

Allowing genuine ability to accept or reject Christ

Finally, if we say that regeneration leads to faith, then regeneration has to be an act of God that doesn’t depend on anything people do.  In other words, people would have no real choice about whether or not they become Christians.  It would be God’s decision alone. 

When we recognise, however, that faith leads to regeneration, we no longer have to say that God alone chooses who becomes a Christian.  We can say that He gives people the genuine ability to accept or reject salvation. 


See also:



Friday, 3 February 2017

The Bible Is True – But This Is a Bit More Complicated than You May Think

In 2 Timothy 3:16, the apostle Paul states: 
“All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, for rebuking, for correction, for training in uprightness.”  
As followers of Jesus Christ, it is essential that we hold fast to what this verse teaches. God has designed the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments to teach us truth that we need to know. The Bible can rightly be called “The Manual for the Human Life.”

So the Bible teaches what is true. And it consistently teaches what is true. Note how Paul says that all Scripture is God-breathed.

IT’S NOT QUITE SO SIMPLE

Although it consistently teaches what is true, when we come to closely examine the Bible, we find that its truthfulness is not actually a simple subject. I am not suggesting that Scripture in any way fails to accomplish what 2 Timothy 3:16 says. But when we get into the details, we find that things are a bit more complicated than many assume.

Failure to recognise this is not really dangerous in itself. But there are two problems that often arise when Christians have simplistic assumptions about precisely what they mean when they say that the Bible is true.

PROBLEMS WITH SIMPLISTIC ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE

First, there is the problem of Christians doubting the inspiration of Scripture or even doubting the Christian faith itself.

A Christian may have certain assumptions about what it means to say that the Bible is true. Then, when they come to the view that it is not true in exactly the way they thought, it can make them doubt the Bible’s authority.

One motivation I have in writing this article is to try, in some small measure, to prevent this happening. I want to encourage Christians to see that the truthfulness of Scripture is not a simple subject. If they understand this before they reach the point of having a crisis of faith, then hopefully the crisis will never come. Some who would otherwise doubt the Bible’s authority will hopefully just modify their views on the Bible slightly instead.

It is a real tragedy when Christians abandon the faith over something trivial. Often, all we need is a small adjustment of our views on things.

Second, there is the problem of Christians being hostile to other believers who differ in minor ways on what they mean by the truthfulness of Scripture.

Again, it is a tragedy when this happens. Christians need to accept each other when they take different views on relatively insignificant matters. But this often doesn’t happen.

So another part of my motivation in writing this article is to try to counter this hostility. I want to persuade Christians that the truthfulness of the Bible is not quite so simple a subject as many think. And then I hope that some who are currently hostile to those who take a slightly different view will drop their hostility.

DIFFERENT IDEAS OF WHAT IS TRUE AND FALSE

The first point I want to make about the Bible’s truthfulness concerns cultural variations in ideas about what is true and false.

What the authors of Scripture regarded as true or false ways of expressing things doesn’t always coincide with what people today regard as true or false ways of expressing things. To an extent, ideas about what is an acceptable way to express something actually vary from culture to culture.

Often, modern Christians simply assume that the biblical writers spoke and wrote about things like we do. However, there are many ways in which they actually didn’t.

Importantly, in Scripture there is often much less of a connection between truthfulness and precision than exists in modern Western culture. The biblical authors were frequently far less precise about things than we tend to be.

An example

A good biblical example of this can be found in Matthew 12:40, where Jesus prophesies: 
“For just as Jonah was in the stomach of the sea monster for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” 
The part of this prophecy that we are interested in is the prediction that Jesus will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

To begin with, we need to recognise that being in the heart of the earth refers to the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The only other conceivable possibility is that it refers to the time between His burial and resurrection. However, all the Gospels portray Jesus’ burial taking place within about two or three hours of His death. And there is no reason to doubt that the time between His death and resurrection would have been only about two or three hours longer than the time between His burial and resurrection. And this difference in time isn’t long enough to affect my argument in what follows. So I won’t bother to argue the case here that the time in the heart of the earth is the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection rather than the time between His burial and resurrection. I will just assume this.

Matthew 12:40, then, tells us that the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection will be three days and three nights.

When modern Westerners say “three days and three nights,” they always mean a period of about 72 hours, give or take a few hours. However, when we turn to chapters 27 and 28 of Matthew’s Gospel, we find that Matthew, like the other Gospel writers, portrays the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection as about half that time!  

Matthew implies that Jesus died around or shortly after 3 pm on the Friday (Matt. 27:46-50). And he seems to imply that He rose before about 6 am on the following Sunday (Matt. 28:1-7).

Like the other Gospel authors, Matthew doesn’t tell us the time of day that Jesus rose from the dead. But we could make a rough guess at 3 am on the Sunday. And it couldn’t possibly have been later than 7 am. So, according to Matt. 27:46-28:7, Jesus was dead for approximately 36 hours, give or take a few hours. And it couldn’t have been for more than 40 hours.

To a modern Western mind, what Matthew has done is nothing short of astonishing. In Matt. 12:40 he tells us that Jesus prophesied that He would be dead for three days and three nights. But when he describes the fulfillment of the prophecy in chapters 27-28, Jesus is dead for only about 36 hours!

It is important to note that we can’t explain the prophecy by saying that three days and three nights means three periods of daytime plus three periods of nighttime. Even if, improbably in my view, Matt. 27:46-28:7 can be interpreted to allow for a post-dawn resurrection and therefore three periods of daytime between Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were only two periods of nighttime. Jesus was dead during the nighttime of Friday to Saturday and during the nighttime of Saturday to Sunday. But there was no third period of nighttime. So the three days and three nights cannot mean three periods of daytime plus three periods of nighttime.

Instead, the three days and three nights must be referring to three consecutive Jewish calendar days. Jewish days began and ended at sunset. So the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection fell on the last part of the day before the Sabbath, all of the Sabbath day, and probably a bit less than half of the day after the Sabbath. Therefore the time between His death and resurrection fell on part or all of three consecutive calendar days.

And Matthew apparently regarded it as true to say that this period of about 36 hours was three days and three nights! But in modern Western culture we couldn’t possibly truthfully describe a period of about 36 hours as three days and three nights!

Suppose a man in a Western country went into a house at 3 pm on a Friday and came out of the house at 3 am on the following Sunday. And suppose he later referred to this, but instead of giving the times of entering and exiting the house, he said, “I was in the house for three days and three nights.” This man would obviously not be telling the truth.

But in Matthew’s culture, a period of about 36 hours, that fell on three consecutive calendar days, apparently could be truthfully described as three days and three nights!

Matt. 12:40 therefore contains an example of wording that was true in first century Jewish culture, but which would be considered untrue in modern Western culture. If modern Western ways of expressing things had existed back in Jesus’ and Matthew’s day, the prophecy in Matt. 12:40 would surely have been worded differently. The same information would have been conveyed, but using different wording.

Summing up

We see, then, that the Bible can use very imprecise language that would be considered untrue in modern Western culture, but which was considered true in first century Jewish culture.

This example shows clearly that the truthfulness of the Bible is not a simple subject. The wording of Scripture is only true in terms of the values of truth and error in the cultures of those who wrote it. And occasionally these values are very different from other cultures, such as modern Western culture.

MINOR ERRORS THAT WERE NOT IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT

Another way in which the truthfulness of the Bible is not a simple matter concerns errors that have come into its text since it was first written.

You may be surprised to hear this, but even the vast majority of ultraconservative Bible scholars believe that Scripture as we have it today contains some minor errors.

(In this article I will use the term “ultraconservative” to refer to Christians who claim that the original text of the Bible contained not even one minor error. This is a much better term to describe these believers than “conservative,” since there are many Christians, like myself, who are theologically and doctrinally fully conservative, while holding that the original text of Scripture contained some minor errors.)

When ultraconservative scholars say that they believe in the “inerrancy” of the Bible, what they almost always mean is that they believe that the autographs of the biblical books were without error.

The autograph of a text is the original document, the piece of writing that was first composed. And all of the autographs of Scripture are now lost. What we have today are copies of earlier copies.

During the copying process, scribes often made unintentional mistakes. And they also sometimes deliberately altered the wording, when they thought that it read awkwardly or that what it said was theologically problematic.

The result is that today we have thousands of manuscripts of portions of the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, but no two copies of any significant length agree with each other perfectly. And this means that any Bible translation today is bound to contain some minor errors.

An example

An example of an error that has come into the Hebrew text can be found in 2 Samuel 15.

Verses 1-6 of this chapter describe how Absalom made himself popular among the Jews of his day. The passage tells us that he used to stand near a gate in Jerusalem and speak to many who were involved in lawsuits. He would say that he agreed with them that they were in the right. And in this way he won people’s affections.

However, in the Hebrew text as it has come down to us, v. 7 then begins: 
“At the end of forty years Absalom said to the king [David] . . .” 
In the context, the forty years apparently refers to the time that Absalom was in the habit of speaking to people at the gate. But the author of 2 Samuel surely cannot have written that Absalom did this for forty years. It seems far too long a time.

Besides, the reader of 2 Samuel has been told that David was king in Jerusalem before Absalom started to do this (2 Sam. 5:9 etc.). And the reader has also been told that David’s reign in Jerusalem lasted for only thirty-three years (2 Sam. 5:5). So “forty” seems to be an error that has crept into the Hebrew text.

It is likely that the original Hebrew read “four,” and that this was accidentally corrupted in copying to “forty.” Most English translations have “four” in their texts, and this seems to be our best guess of what the author wrote. Nevertheless, “forty” is apparently an error in the Hebrew text as we have it. And even ultraconservative scholars usually agree with this.

The Bible gets its job done

There are numerous other places in the Bible where we find similar minor errors that have come into the text since it was first written. Sometimes we can figure out with a high degree of probability what the original was. But sometimes we can’t. And this means that every translation of Scripture is bound to contain some minor errors.

There is no need for Christians to be troubled about this, however. Although the original text of the Bible has not been preserved perfectly, the overwhelming majority of these errors involve trivial matters. Furthermore, even on those occasions when something more important is in view, it is never the case that a key matter of doctrine or practice stands or falls on the uncertain passage alone. There will be other scriptural passages that teach about the same subject and which are textually not in dispute.

Basically, errors that have come into the text since the Bible was written in no way prevent it doing what God designed it for. Scripture succeeds in getting its job done.

I also think that allowing unimportant errors to enter the biblical text is actually an act of great wisdom on God’s part. Sadly, some Christians unintentionally tend to treat the Bible as an object of worship. But the minor errors in it help to counter this tendency. And yet they don’t stop Scripture accomplishing its purpose. It seems to me that this is perfect planning by God.

The same would have been true in the first century

There is one other point worth making on this issue, which is that the same sort of situation would have existed in the first century as exists today. The copies of the OT used by Jesus and the early church would have contained minor errors. It is completely implausible to think that God chose to prevent the introduction of minor errors into the text for hundreds of years up to the time of Christ and the early church, but that He then allowed this after that time.

This means that when, in the NT, we find Jesus and early Christians implying that the OT text in their day is without error, we should understand them to be simplifying things slightly.

This simplification is perfectly reasonable. As is true today, the errors in the first century text would in no way have stopped the OT doing its job. So there was no need to see them as significant or bother mentioning them. But nevertheless, it is worth noting that there is a bit of simplification going on.

Summing up

This issue of minor errors coming into the text after it was written, then, is a second way in which the truthfulness of Scripture is not a simple matter.

MINOR ERRORS THAT WERE IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT

Another way in which the Bible’s truthfulness is not a simple subject concerns minor errors in the original text.

As I have studied Scripture closely over the years, I have become convinced that its original text contained errors of this kind. I am sure that the only way of avoiding this conclusion is to take extremely unnatural interpretations of the passages involved or to come up with other implausible solutions. And I don’t believe that God asks us to do anything implausible when dealing with Scripture. So I take the firm view that the original text of the Bible contained minor errors in unimportant matters.

An example

An example of this can be found in Job 37:18, where Elihu challenges Job with these words: 
“Can you spread out the skies as He [God] does, hard like a mirror of cast metal?” 
Elihu assumes here that the skies God made are solid. Up until the 16th century AD people believed that the sky was a solid dome, and Elihu clearly understands things in this way. But we know today that the sky is not solid. So Elihu has unknowingly made a minor mistake.

It is not reasonable to argue that because this is poetry, the author of Job didn’t intend his readers to take these words literally. Poetry actually often uses a great deal of literal language. And the hardness of the skies was clearly meant to be understood literally here.

The key point Elihu is making in this verse is that God is immensely powerful and wise, and this, of course, is true. And Elihu is also obviously correct to say that God used His power and wisdom to make the skies. So his error here in no way affects his argument in this part of the book of Job. It is a trivial mistake.

In this verse God has chosen to speak using ancient understanding of the world, even though that understanding was not entirely accurate.

The only way to avoid this conclusion is to explain things away, but Christians should never do that.

No need to be troubled

Again, there is no need for believers to be troubled about minor errors like this one. Just as with errors that have come into the text since it was first written, so with errors in the original text, we can be sure that they are all minor ones.

It is unthinkable that God would allow the Bible to mislead us in anything of importance.

Summing up

The existence of minor errors in the original text of the Bible, then, is a third way in which the truthfulness of Scripture is not a simple matter.

AVOIDING SIMPLISTIC ASSUMPTIONS

I have briefly commented on three ways in which the truthfulness of the Bible is a subject that is a bit more complicated than many Christians might think.

As I said at the outset, my aim is to encourage believers to avoid simplistic assumptions about the nature of the Bible.

If Christians accept that the Bible’s truthfulness is not entirely straightforward, they will surely be less likely to have their faith shaken by things in it that they were not expecting to find. And they will surely also be more generous to other believers who differ from their view of Scripture in minor ways.


For a more in-depth discussion of this issue, see my longer article:



See also:



Beware of Slipping Away from Believing in the Bible