Quoting Quiverfull: The Bible?

Quoting Quiverfull: The Bible? April 23, 2013

By Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church

“The Bible is the inerrant … word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc.”


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QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • How does he know?

    Internally it seems to be pretty clear that it needs to be interpreted with care using reality checks. For instance, it says π=3. Given that we know that π≠3, that would seem to me either a warning from God not to be too literal, or evidence that it was written by people who were somewhat casual with the facts.

  • texcee

    Biblical inerrancy is the greatest lie of our time. It only takes a superficial reading to see that the Bible is chock full of errors, contradictions, mistranslations, and just plain inaccuracy. I realized this when I was given a “read the Bible in a year” book many years ago. Side by side, passages from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs showed me this in a way I’d never seen in all my years of Bible study and scripture reading.

  • I call this view “Bibleolatry.” The Bible is not a 4th member of the Trinity, and Jesus’ mission on earth was NOT to make us better follower of the Bible.

  • Mayara

    The Bible is inerrant because… The Bible said so.
    Gosh, isn’t that easy?
    I’m writing a book saying that everything on that book is real and correct. Would people believe it? No. Just because it is an old book, it’s ok to believe that?

  • I believe that the Bible need to be interpreted with care. I also believe your example shows one thing that could happen if we do not read with care. The Bible does not say pi = 3. It speaks of a round bath shaped like a lily (not equally wide at all heights). The left-to-right measurement at the top (where a lily will be the widest) was 10 units. The height at which the round measurement was taken is not given, but reason suggest that the place where measuring tape won’t slip is the narrowest part. There, the round measurement is 30 units. The ancient Isrealites were certainly intelligent enough to use measuring tape.

  • You say the Bible is full of contradictions. Can you say which, in your view, is the two biggest ones? Don’t link to long lists that include silly “contradictions” like “so-and-so was barren/ so-and-so had children which she raised for her sister (she had her sisters children in her care for some reason). Just say which is the most relevant contradictions you saw.

  • The passage in 1 Kings 7:23-26 doesn’t say where the measurements were taken, true, but the emphasis appears to be on the size of the bath, so taking the circumference measurement at less than the widest point would defeat that purpose. Also, the KJV says, “26 And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.” “With flowers of lilies” does not sound like the whole thing was shaped like a lily, although other translations do say, ” like a lily blossom”, so I guess that could be the case.

    I can understand how, if you are going to abandon a strictly literal interpretation of the passage you can conclude the circumference was measured at less than the widest point and therefore there is no contradiction with the value of pi, and I won’t say you’re wrong, but you are indulging in what one author has called “Christian midrash” to get to that point.

  • newcomer

    The unspoken arrogance that I see underlying all absolute belief is here: to definitively say that the Bible can’t be wrong is to also say that you, yourself, can’t be wrong about this. When you match your own Holy book against another faith’s, with no more evidence than they have, how can you claim with certainty that your own faith is Truth and theirs is a lie without also holding a belief in your own infallibility in spiritual matters (or at least in the infallibility of a community or spiritual leader, and by extension your own infallibility in choosing to believe them)?

  • Am I right that you assume that nobody from any faith has better evidence than anyone from another faith? Because you talk about “When you match your own Holy book against another faith’s, with no more evidence than they have”.

    People of faith may have seen evidence you are not aware of, so what would make you think one group cannot have more evidence than another?

  • I have never abandoned a literal reading, just a KJV only reading. (Where most translations say the rim was shaped like a lily, KJV say it was with lilies.)
    A brim like a lily was 10 cubits across at the brim, which will be the widest point if the brim was shaped like that.
    “the emphasis appears to be on the size of the bath, so taking the circumference measurement at less than the widest point would defeat that purpose.” -Coleslaw
    I disagree. Because the emphasis is on the size, how much water it can hold, the circumference of the wideness at the folding-outwards brim (where there won’t be water) will be less relevant than the circumference at the place which actually holds water. It will also be harder to measure as the measuring line will slip.

  • It seems to me that the measurement could very well have been an approximation. Demanding fractional accuracy from the writers of the text appears to me to be imposing a modern standard on the text. It doesn’t ultimately matter to me what the shape of the pool was, or whether the measurements had anything do with pi. Was the author’s intent to describe the value of pi? I doubt it very strongly.

  • stairway to heaven

    There is a most glaring “biblical” contradiction that comes out repeatedly as one hears the stories of lives destroyed by patriarchal views of scripture. A God of love and compassion vs. a God that puts women in a position to be abused.

  • Exactly!

    Even if you accept the bible as a source of truth, the idea that we might need to look to it to determine the value of π instead of to the world is bizarre. Since we know that π≠3, that can’t have been the point of the passage. Since we know the world is more than 4000 years old, the age of the universe can’t have been the point of Genesis. Since we know that beating children is bad for them and for family relationships, that can’t have been the point of the infamous “spare the rod” passage.

  • Does the bible actually claim to be inerrant? The ten commandments were issued directly from God and as such can be claimed to be inerrant, but isn’t inerrancy for the rest of it a claim by people?

  • Retha, what does that even mean?

  • gimpi

    Your question wasn’t addressed to me, but the two different creation stories in Genesis come to mind.

  • gimpi

    And people of another faith may have seen evidence that you aren’t aware of. That’s why I personally favor keeping one’s faith out of the societal decision-making process.

  • gimpi

    The above was meant for Rutha.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Well, I think that “beating your children is great!” CAN have been the point of the passage, but that doesn’t mean we have to listen to it. There are a lot of nasty things in the bible. Which is fine by me because I’m not remotely invested in the bible being The Source Of All Truth and Goodness and I don’t believe it was divinely inspired. We can choose to reject things.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    There isn’t anything like the Christian fundamentalist idea of “inerrancy” in even Orthodox Judaism (or if there is, it is not mainstream even within Orthodox Judaism), which is the most conservative of Jewish sects. And, ya know, it was our book first, at least the “Old Testament” part. lol. So, yeah, not only is inerrancy a claim “by people” is it a very recent claim by people to whom a lot of the text belongs only be appropriation in the first place. The bible is interpreted very differently in Judaism.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    BTW, just to be clear, I am not remotely Orthodox. I am just making the point that the concept of “biblical inerrancy” should not be taken for granted, especially when there isn’t even like it in the culture and religion where much of bible originated.

  • Mary C

    Retha, if you are curious/interested in learning more about the contradictions in the bible, a really good, easy to follow book is “Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible and Why We Don’t Know About Them” by Bart Ehrman.

  • newcomer

    No, that is not an assumption that is accurate. Personally, I am atheist-agnostic, meaning I have had no experiences or insights that have ever caused me to believe in God, and honestly the idea of God doesn’t make sense to me, and never really has (I DID briefly try very hard to believe when my preschool teacher told me that I was going to hell if I didn’t, and tasked me with trying to ‘save’ my similarly unbelieving parents from this terrible fate that she described with such gusto- realized that I didn’t believe at six years old under a situation of high duress, when belief in God would have been a comfort). But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. I could be wrong, and try to keep enough of an open mind to be able to modify my limited understanding of the world if I ever encounter something that makes God seem more real (or anything else in which I don’t believe). I CAN say from the outside that the biblical God doesn’t radiate a special aura of Truth to me any more than the Greek or Roman or Norse gods, but can’t make any special claim to being more informed in this matter than anyone else.

    However, I have encountered many many many Christians who are certain that what they believe is right because they believe it, use the Bible as their sole ‘proof,’ and openly ridicule people of different faiths who do the same with their own holy books (and vice versa I’m sure, but my location is in the middle of the Bible Belt and that’s who have holy books here). There is a profound arrogance there. Even when people have experiences that shape their beliefs, there is still room for human error. We have wonderful minds that are capable of glitching in many ways, from false memories to hallucinations. 12 different witnesses can give 12 conflicting accounts of the same accident, and each one be convinced their version is the correct one. We have minds that are constantly searching for patterns, and sometimes they create them- see faces in clouds and stones and shadows. The best that any of us can do is try to assemble our perceptions and experiences into something coherent and proceed from there, even knowing that there is a possibility that they are wrong. But to dismiss someone else’s experiences and beliefs out of hand simply because they aren’t the same as our own is the opposite of humility. If you pray to God and hear an answer, clearly that is going to strengthen your belief. But if the people who pray to the pantheon of Hindu gods hear answers, too, what makes you certain beyond a doubt that your experience is Truth and theirs is simply being duped, whether by Satan or demons or simple human imagination run amok? What makes you certain of your own infallibility in this matter above all others?

  • Mayara

    Alison, I’d say anything on the Bible IS a claim by the people because it’s a text and you have to interpret it. If I remember correctly from my confirmation at a Lutheran church, we were taught that the Bible said it was “the voice of God” or “the word of God” and as such, couldn’t lie, couldn’t be wrong.
    Something like that, it’s been years.
    But it always went back to… It is the word of God because it says so on the Bible. Which is kind of silly logic anyways

  • texcee

    All of this sounds like a “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” argument — unanswerable and completely inane.

  • texcee

    I never even heard the word “inerrancy” until sometime in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s and then it was being espoused by the Rev. W. A. Criswell of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. It was about that time that the fundamentalists began taking over the Southern Baptist Convention and from that point on the inmates have been running the asylum. I thought the concept of inerrancy was dead wrong then and I think it even moreso now.

  • saraquill

    I’d find the absolute infallibility of the Bible to be a lot more believable if it hadn’t spent centuries being altered by humans. Not to say that there was malice behind the changes, but there have been translations and edits throughout time.

  • texcee

    All this discussion has prompted me to attempt (again) to read the Bible straight through. I’ve just gotten through Genesis and started on Exodus and am flabbergasted by how random some of it can be. Here’s a passage from Exodus 4: 24-26 that just came out of nowhere. God has sent Moses and his family on their way back to Egypt to convince Pharoah to “let the people go.” Then these verses appear right in the middle of it:

    24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him [Moses], and sought to kill him.
    25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
    26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

    Say what? God tried to kill Moses who was saved when Moses’ wife circumsized their son with a sharp rock and threw the bloody foreskin at him? WHAT is up with this?? There’s no explanation or exposition. Wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on THAT wall??

  • texcee

    By the way, I found a contradition (though a small one) right at the beginning of Exodus. Zipporah, Moses’ wife, is described as the daughter of Reuel, then in the next chapter she’s the daughter of Jethro.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    lol! I remember reading those verses when I was a kid and being like “Huh? WTFt? We don’t mention THIS at Passover!” (Because it doesn’t make any sense…)