Do You Have to Believe the Bible is True to be a Christian?
I had a great conversation with some of our college age grandchildren a few months ago, over brisket and pulled pork. We were talking about the Bible. How we got it. Who decided which books would be included and how divine inspiration works. Did God dictate it word-for-word, or did the Holy Spirit simply bring to their mind ideas that he wanted recorded for all time? (No one really knows with certainty, but the testimony of its truths is that it has changed the course of the world and transformed the lives of hundreds of millions.)
So one of them asked, “Do you have to believe the whole Bible is true, every story and every book inspired by God, to be a Christian?” So, here is how I responded; (And if you think differently, please let me know.)
Believing the whole Bible is true, is not a requirement for salvation. No where does Jesus say, “Believe in me and the whole Bible, then you shall be saved.” Neither does Paul and any other New Testament writers. Yes, Paul, then Peter wrote this;
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20, 21
The truth is, long before there ever was a New Testament, after Pentecost millions of people came to faith without it. The early Church had these letters circulating, which later became the books of NT, but most came to faith hearing only orally about Jesus life, death and resurrection and seeing the Holy Spirit transform sinners into saints. However, today we do have the written account of what these people were told. And almost everything we know about Jesus today, is found in the Bible. So if you're not sure the whole Bible is true, how do you know even the story about Jesus' death and resurrection is true?
So I told my grandchildren, I believe the whole Bible to be inspired, true and dependable, as have almost every other Christian for 2,000 years. But it’s not a requirement for salvation. However, I warned them about the possible consequences, if they have real doubts about which parts of the Bible to believe or not, by using this illustration.
Just suppose you didn’t believe in climate change. Then one day someone presented you with some evidence that convinced you it was true. As a result, you repented your previously held views and joined the ranks of climate change believers.
Then someone presented you with the Definitive Book on Climate Change. It was all the best science from the world's most experienced experts. Everything you need to move from simple belief to being a knowledgeable advocate for the cause, working to convince others as well. But as you read, you began having doubts about some things you were reading. So you started picking and choosing what you really believed in, but in doing so, you discovered that you lost some of the confidence you once had.
My guess is that if you weren’t confident of all you were being told, there’s a good chance you’d never have the confidence to move from being simply a convert, to being an activist devoting your life to the cause of climate change.
Then I made this observation. I’ve never met a passionate follower of Jesus, who wasn’t convinced the whole Bible was true. I’m sure there are, I just can’t remember meeting one. I’m not doubting their salvation, but when you begin doubting the truth of the Bible, where do you stop? It’s dangerous business.
I finished with this statement, “I believe the entire Bible to be true. I also admit I don’t understand all of it. But I’m all in on the Bible and urge you to be as well if you are serious about truly following Jesus all your life. If not, all your life you will be what the book of James calls, ”a double-minded man” uncertain and not fully committed. Salt without taste. If someday I find out I was wrong, I will still be forever grateful for the Bible for giving my life purpose and my ethics structure.“
So, do you agree, or disagree and why? I’d love to hear from you.