The Bible: Is It Factually True, Or Merely Religiously True?

Some people attempt to distinguish between factual and religious truth in the Bible. For many of them, religious matters, or matters of "faith and practice," are considered infallible, while other matters are subject to error. However, this approach is inconsistent with that taken by the Scriptures themselves. The Biblical authors repeatedly indicated, both implicitly and explicitly, that they considered all of what they were writing, and all of what their predecessors had written, to be both factually true and given by God. If we do not remain faithful to these Biblical assumptions with respect to the Scriptures, why should we remain faithful to the Biblical assumptions with respect to anything else?

The Bible claims that the miracles recorded within it really happened. If we reject this Biblical claim, then we reject the integrity of the Bible. If we do not accept the miracles, then the Bible cannot be accepted as trustworthy, because it consistently attests to these miracles.

If we say that it is trustworthy only with regard to religious truth, we have a problem, because we are saying that its continual claims about itself and about history are false. Why trust it with respect to religion if it cannot be trusted in these repeated assertions? Why trust that which is either falsified or unreliable? If the Bible cannot be trusted in its repeated assertions, and if its writers were lying or deceived about non-religious matters, then what reason do we have to think that they were not lying or deceived with respect to religious matters?

Can we really even distinguish between "religious" and "non- religious" content in the Bible, and attempt to say that the former is infallible while the latter is not? The "religious truths" and other factual truths are hopelessly intertwined in the Bible. It is just as impossible to separate the "religious" from the "non-religious" statements in the Bible as it is to separate its history from "legend."

The historical statements in the Bible have a direct bearing upon faith and practice. For example, the Song of Moses was sung traditionally by the people of Israel. This was a matter of "faith and practice," but it was also a commemoration of historical events. If those events did not in fact occur, the singing of the song would have been meaningless. God acts in history. His trustworthiness in times past reinforces our trust in His trustworthiness today. His faithfulness in the past provides us with confidence that He will be faithful with us. If the Bible is not entirely trustworthy with respect to the historical events recorded within it, then it cannot be an "infallible rule of faith and practice."

Who would ever take seriously a friend's assertion that he would always remain faithful to us, if this assertion were based upon a written record of his acts of faithfulness, which, however, had been falsified?


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