How Should We Not Read the Bible? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Continuing from part 1 of this series, we now turn to more of the mistakes critics make when alleging errors in the Bible.  These mistakes are taken from Norman Geisler and Tom Howe’s The Big Book of Bible Difficulties.

Mistake #3: Confusing Our Fallible Interpretations with God’s Infallible Revelation.

The words of the Bible are infallible, meaning they cannot be broken (see John 10:35).  We can trust everything in the Bible because it is God’s Word and God cannot err.  However, humans must interpret the words of the Bible and our interpretations are not infallible.  We can make mistakes when we handle the Word of God.  Geisler and Howe explain that “the Bible cannot be mistaken, but we can be mistaken about the Bible. The meaning of the Bible does not change, but our understanding of its meaning does.”

Likewise, we must all be careful of pitting scientific findings against Scripture.  Both science and Scripture require fallible human interpretation and so both are open to error.  It is impossible for true scientific interpretations to contradict true interpretations of Scripture, so when we think there is a contradiction, we know that one of the interpretations is false.

Mistake #4: Failing to Understand the Context of the Passage.

No word, sentence, paragraph, or chapter of the Bible can be understood without its context.  In fact, this is true of any written document.  Since modern Bibles include verse and chapter numbers, many readers freely quote phrases and sentences in isolation without anchoring them in their surrounding context.  Because the Bible is so easy to quote (from verses and chapters), critics commonly ignore the context of biblical passages and draw improper conclusions from what they read.

Mistake #5: Neglecting to Interpret Difficult Passages in the Light of Clear Ones.

According to Geisler and Howe, “Some passages of Scripture are hard to understand. Sometimes the difficulty is due to their obscurity. At other times, the difficulty is because passages appear to be teaching something contrary to what some other part of Scripture is clearly teaching.”  In these cases, the best course of action is to take what is clearly taught in Scripture and interpret the difficult passages through what is clearly taught.

More in part 3…