I used to believe that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God. I believed this because I was told to believe it, and to question such things was to question God. And if I questioned God too much, or too often, then perhaps he was going to someday get tired of me and throw me into a lake of fire. The Bible was clear.
Well, that may have been what I was told, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Sound logic and reason have shown me that.
Nevertheless, many believers still cling to a theory of inspiration of Scripture that states: “If it’s in the Bible [the Protestant canon, no doubt], then it must be true—theologically, historically, everything.” For these, I offer the following question: What do you do about the following?
Who incited David to take a census of Israel?
2 Samuel 24:1 tells us that “the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
But . . .
1 Chronicles 21:1 begs to differ: “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.”
Did God desire Jehu to slaughter the house of Ahab at Jezreel?
2 Kings 9:7–8 tells us: “You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants and prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.”
But . . .
Hosea 1:4 begs to differ: “And the Lord said to him, ‘Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.”
Who killed Goliath?
1 Samuel 17:49–51 says: “David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; he grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it.”
But . . .
2 Samuel 21:18–19 begs to differ: “After this a battle took place with the Philistines, at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathhite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. Then there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.”
Which genealogy of Jesus is correct?
Matthew 1:16 reads: “and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.”But . . .
Luke 3:23 begs to differ: “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli.”
Was Jairus’ daughter alive or dead when Jesus is approached for healing?
Mark 5:22–23 tells us: “Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’”
But . . .
Matthew 9:18 begs to differ: “While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’”
When did Jesus die?
According to Mark, Jesus has a Passover meal, is arrested, spends the night in jail, and then is executed at “nine o’clock in the morning” (Mark 15:25).
But . . .
John 19:14 begs to differ: “Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon.”
Did both thieves on the cross revile Jesus?
Mark 15:27–32 tells us: “And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.”
But . . .
Luke 23:32, 39–43 begs to differ: “Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him . . . One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
I could go on and on, but I think that will suffice for now. What I’m trying to get at is that the Bible is not 100% accurate, 100% of the time. Please, though, do not take such a statement as an attack on the Bible. It is far from that. I revere the Bible, study it diligently, and even affirm that it is “inspired by God.” After all, it is the great tale of how we arrive at our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is just no reason to then believe the entire tale is inerrant—theologically, historically, or otherwise. If you do, then that’s fine. Just don’t expect most rational people to agree with you. Which is perfectly fine too.