Biblical Infallibility: Arguments Against the Bible

Text: I Peter 1:22-25


I.         The arguments have not changed much over the years. Same given today as hundreds of years ago.

II.        All or Nothing

            A.        Do we have to insist on total infallibility of the Scriptures?

            B.        Some fear that one error would overthrow all of Christianity.

            C.        However, if the writers of the Bible were wrong on one point, how do you know they did not error on some other point?

            D.        The Bible insists on inerrancy.

                        1.         It comes from God - II Timothy 3:16

                        2.         God cannot lie - Numbers 23:19

            E.        The Bible can only be proven false if God has lied about his word. However, God is always true - Romans 3:4

            F.        We should never be fearful of defending the Bible

III.       Non-Essential Details

            A.        Does inspiration guarantee that "non-essential" details (trivialities) are accurate?

            B.        How can we as fallible men determine what is trivial and non-essential?

                        1.         What superficially appears to be trivial may, upon deeper reflection, be a rich depository of truth.

                        2.         For example, Paul’s request to bring his cloak in II Timothy 4:13. Surely, these things cannot be inspired!

                                    a.         Why did Paul leave his cloak in Troas?

                                                (1)       Was he forced to flee and had no time to pick it up?

                                                (2)       Perhaps this indicates that Paul continued to be persecuted in his later years.

                                    b.         Think of Paul’s sacrificial poverty.

                                                (1)       Paul was willing to spend and be spent for the cause of Christ - II Corinthians 12:15

                                                (2)       Winter is coming and Paul’s one cloak is hundreds of miles away.

                                                (3)       Paul was not stranger to cold and nakedness - II Corinthians 11:27

                                    c.         What happened to the saints in Rome?

                                                (1)       They had originally welcomed Paul enthusiastically, rushing out to meet him as he approached Rome - Acts 28:15

                                                (2)       Had many of them been scattered in the persecutions?

                                                (3)       Had some of them turned against Paul? - Philippians 1:15-17

                                                (4)       During Paul’s first trial, no one stood up for him in defense - II Timothy 4:16

                                                (5)       During the second time in Rome, only Luke was with him - II Timothy 4:11

                                                (6)       Perhaps the saints love had grown cold - Matthew 24:12

                                    d.         Notice Paul’s fortitude

                                                (1)       No word of complaint. No whimpering. No brow-beating of neglectful brethren. No pitiful solicitation of others.

            C.        Even small details in the Old Testament were considered factual and doctrinal teaching was based on them.

                        1.         Example: The "s" on "seeds" in God's promise to Abraham - Galatians 3:16

                        2.         Example: The "minor" event occurring to Lot's wife - Luke 17:32

            D.        All Scripture is for our learning - Romans. 15:4

            E.        The Bible must be accepted as a whole

IV.      The Accuracy of Its Contents

            A.        The typical argument is that the Bible cannot be true because it got some historical details wrong

            B.        When the Bible records an event, that event actually happened - John 17:17

            C.        Most often the arguments are based on what we don’t know. Then some discovery is made that shows the common accepted belief is wrong and the Bible is right.

                        1.         There is so much we can cover under this point, we will spend an entire lesson on the point.

V.        We don’t have the original documents

            A.        Another line of argument is that there are mistakes in the Bible, such as conflicting information

            B.        Even though we do not have the original documents, we believe the original documents to be accurate.

                        1.         Some might point out that since we have never seen the original, we cannot prove our point.

                        2.         However, they cannot prove that there were errors in the original.

                        3.         The question is do we believe the Bible came through the working of the Holy Spirit? - II Peter 1:20-21

            C.        For example, when did Jehoiachin begin reigning and how long did he reign? II Kings 24:8 and II Chronicles 36:9 give two different numbers.

                        1.         When dealing with dates we tend to be precise with small values and begin rounding as the value gets larger.

                                    a.         We are likely to say that we moved into our new home three years ago, instead of noting that we moved into our new home three years, 2 months, 1 day, 5 hours, and 33 minutes ago.

                                    b.         Therefore, for one account to say he ruled three months and other to say three months and ten days is simply a difference in what degree of rounding was done in the two records.

                        2.         The starting date is most likely due to a copyist error. The difference between 18 and 8 is one letter.

                                    a.         Two old translations, the Syrian and Arabic have 18 in both accounts.

                        3.         Another possible explanation is that many kings trained their successors.

                                    a.         David did this with Solomon to prevent contentions over who would succeed him to the throne, and it became a common practice among his heirs.

                                    b.         It is possible that Jehoiachin began a co-regency with his father, starting at the age of eight, and became the sole king at the age of 18. But he only reigned three months and 10 days.

                                    c.         However, eight would be an unusally young age to start a co-regency, so I don't think this possibility is quite as likely.

                                    d.         Besides, he had wives - II Kings 24:15

                        4.         A final possibility comes from when you start counting years. In I Samuel 13:1 the literal Hebrew sounds like Saul started reigning when he was one year old, but likely what is being stated is that the event occured in the first year of his reign. It just sounds odd to Americans because we don't speak of time in that manner.

                                    a.         Jehoiachin's father Jehoakim reigned for 11 years - II Kings 23:36

                                    b.         In the fourth year of his reign the Babylonian captivity began, when Jehoiachin was 10 years old. - Jeremiah 25:1

                                    c.         Thus, it is possible to say that Jehoiachin was both 18 (from his birth) and 8 (from the captivity) at the same time.

            D.        Which brings up the question: Are the copies and translations unreliable?

                        1.         There have been mistakes made.

                        2.         But they have been minor and easily spotted because each copy/translation does not make the same mistakes.

                        3.         The Dead Sea scrolls showed how accurate our copies of the Old Testament were, even though previously our oldest copy was over 1000 years newer than the scrolls.

                        4.         Scholars place the error rate in our Bibles at less than 0.5% and all the problem areas don’t make much of difference in our understanding of the Bible.

            E.        God promised that the scriptures would never pass away - I Peter 1:22-25

                        1.         This means God is watching over our Bibles to see that His Word is preserved.

VI.      The Presence of Miracles means it is a Myth

            A.        Basically the argument is that miracles do not occur today, therefore they never occurred

                        1.         The resurrection of Jesus could not have happened because it doesn’t continue to happen.

            B.        The definition of a miracle is that it is an supernatural event, not a natural one. It goes against the laws of nature.

                        1.         If people commonly were resurrected, then that would be a natural event

                        2.         The real question is there evidence that the laws of nature were overridden.

            C.        But the argument is circular

                        1.         The concept of God is a supernatural being, but they are assuming the supernatural cannot exist, therefore, they start out assuming the God cannot exist. With that assumption, no wonder they can’t entertain the idea that the Bible may be inspired.

                        2.         But if God does exist, and God created the world, then it would not be a stretch to assume this same God can bend the rules He made when He wants. Thus, the starting assumption changes the resulting conclusion.

            D.        Instead of ruling out the possibility before we begin, the challenge is to decide if there is sufficient evidence that miracles did take place.

                        1.         One of the things offered by the Bible is testimonies from eye-witnesses to the miracles – you don’t find that in Greek mythologies or any other mythologies - I John 1:1-4

                        2.         Statements by these witness in from of hostile audiences are not denied as to the facts.

                        3.         The records are not denied when they were first written

            E.        Hence, the presence of miracles does not instantly falsify a document

VII.     We could go on, but we are out of time

            A.        What will you do with the Bible? Keep finding excuses to deny what it says?

            B.        Or accept the reality of its truths? - John 17:17

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