How Should We Not Read the Bible? Part 5

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Continuing from part 4 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 #11: Presuming that the Bible Approves of All it Records.

Not everything recorded in the Bible is approved by the Bible.  The Bible recounts the sinful acts of many people throughout its pages, but it does not promote these sinful acts.  Critics will often point to polygamy, deception, or any number of other immoral acts in the Bible to prove that God actively promotes those acts.  These things are recorded so that the readers of the Bible may learn from the mistakes of others.

Mistake 12: Forgetting that the Bible Uses Non-technical, Everyday Language.

The biblical authors used common, everyday language to convey truth.  They were not attempting to write in scholarly or scientific terms.  As Geisler and Howe state, “The use of observational, nonscientific language is not unscientific, it is merely prescientific. The Scriptures were written in ancient times by ancient standards, and it would be anachronistic to superimpose modern scientific standards upon them.”

Mistake 13: Assuming that Round Numbers Are False.

Much like the previous mistake, it is unreasonable to expect biblical authors, in a prescientific age, to use precise numbers with several significant digits.  Numbers are sometimes rounded off and there is nothing deceptive or false about this practice.  The Bible is not a math textbook.

Mistake 14: Neglecting to Note that the Bible Uses Different Literary Devices.

There are numerous literary styles used in the Bible, including parable, poetry, allegory, historical narrative, apocalypse, personal letter, epistle, song, and others.  These different literary styles make use of metaphor, simile, satire, hyperbole, and other figures of speech.  It is the job of the reader to recognize when a figure of speech is being employed.  “Obviously when the Bible speaks of the believer resting under the shadow of God’s ‘wings’ (Ps. 36:7), it does not mean that God is a feathered bird.”

Three more mistakes to go…