Fundamentalist Christians believe the bible is the unerring word of God. But is it?
If the bible is anything, it is not an absolute. If it were, why would there be so many denominations, religious clubs all calling themselves “Christians,” yet disagreeing on virtually every point about salvation?
Consider this parable (not by Jesus):
A young woman is given a cookbook by her mother and told that it contains the best recipes. The young woman reads the introduction which states, “The recipes in this cookbook are the best and tastiest on the planet.”
The young woman grows up and uses her cookbook religiously, thinking all along that she has prepared the most flavorful dishes possible. But at pitch-in dinners, her friends bring competing recipes. She does not try them, knowing they are inferior.
When challenged to try them, she brings out her cookbooks and shows her friends what it says in the introduction. She tells them she knows her recipes are best because her cookbook tells her so.
Now, the bible is not a cookbook, but the analogy holds. Fundamentalists believe that the bible is unerring and is the infallible word of God. How do they know this for sure? Well, the bible tells them so. It’s the epitome of circular reasoning.
Fundamentalists say that God gave us the bible centuries ago. Actually, the early Catholic Church gave us the bible in the fourth century AD. A conclave of church bishops and lawyers got together under the command of Constantine I to decide which of the many manuscripts concerning Jesus would become part of their canon.
They left out many historic manuscripts and even destroyed them because they went against church dogma. Some of these were the Gnostic Gospels, a copy of which was found in Egypt in the mid-twentieth century.
So, does the bible reveal absolute truth?
Consider these passages:
Concerning theft, the bible says, “Thou shalt not steal.” (Ex. 20:15) And also, “And ye shall spoil the Egyptians.” (Ex. 3:22)
Concerning being “saved” by grace, it says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith...not of works.” (Eph. 2:8, 9) And then again, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24)
Concerning calling people names, the bible tells us, “Whosoever shall say Thou fool, shall be in danger of hellfire.” (Matt. 5:22) But then Jesus said, “Ye fools are blind.” (Matt. 23:17)
Has anyone actually seen God? John 1:18 says, “No man hath seen God at anytime.” But Gen. 32:30 tells us “For I have seen God face to face.”
And why does God punish Adam and Eve for eating from the tree of knowledge, then praise King Solomon for choosing knowledge as his gift? Does God want us to use our knowledge or not?
The bible can be used to enhance our knowledge and strengthen both our spirits and our minds if we realize that it represents a disparate view of history from many perspectives. It makes for great philosophical debates.
But it can also be used to “prove” almost anything. When one religious zealot takes a single translation and dogmatizes it as absolute truth, he has done a grave disservice to his flock.