Does The Bible Have Errors?
This is Dr. Norman Geisler’s lecture given at the Veritas Evangelical Seminary 2014 National Apologetics Conference on Nov. 8, 2014 titled “Does The Bible Have Errors?” The full video can be watched below:
Dr. David Farnell’s lecture is also available here.
Here are three reasons the Bible cannot err: (1) God the Father; (2) God the Son; (3) God the Holy Spirit.
Reason #1: God the Father
Logical syllogism: God cannot err. The Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, the Bible cannot err.
If you deny inerrancy, you have to ask, which of these two premises do you not believe? Premise #1 or #2? Jesus said, “Your Word is true,” not “Your Word has truth.” Hebrews says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” So you can mark that one off your list. Jesus said in John 10:34-35 that the Scripture cannot be broken (it is infallible). And Paul said, “All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim 3:16). Throughout the Scripture over and over again the Bible is called the Word of God.”
Reason #2: God the Son
Logical Syllogism: Whatever Jesus affirmed as true is true. Jesus affirmed the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God.
Ask yourself: what did Jesus think about the Bible? Because it really doesn’t matter what Darwin thinks about it, the Jesus Seminar and so forth. Jesus says the Bible has divine authority (he counted this some 90 times). He affirmed the Bible is indestructible. He said heaven and earth will pass away but not the smallest part will pass away from it until all is fulfilled. Jesus said the Bible is unbreakable and has all supremacy. He affirmed it is historically reliable. He picked the most disputed passage in the Old Testament; for example, Jonah and the Whale. Jesus says the Bible has scientific accuracy. The most disputed parts of the Bible are the first few chapters but Jesus said that part is the inspired, infallible Word of God. He said Adam and Eve were really the first humans. Jesus said the Bible is factually inerrant (without error). He looked at the Pharisees and said, “You do err not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God.” Here’s a dilemma for the critics: if the Bible is not the Word of God how can Jesus be the Son of God? Because Jesus thought it was.
Now, here are some objections.
One typical argument is that humans error, therefore the Bible can err. But human beings can write an infallible book if the infallible God is moving the people who are writing it. “God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.” Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide them (John 14:26). Even human beings can write books with no errors. There are math books with no errors, some phone books with no errors. We can compare between the living Word and the written Word. Both have divine and human nature in one. Jesus was without sin and the Bible is without error.
Another argument is that to speak with humans, God must accommodate Himself to our language. Problem is that there are errors in our language. Hence, God errs in accommodation. The solution is that God adapts to our finitude but never accommodates to our errors.
Reason #3: God the Holy Spirit
Logical Syllogism: The Spirit of truth cannot utter error. The Bible is the word spoken by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Bible cannot err.
David said, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). And speaking of the Holy Spirit, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13). And Paul said, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (1 Cor. 2:13)
The conclusion is that Bible cannot err because of 1. God the Father; 2. God the Son; 3. God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, an attack on the Bible is an attack on the authenticity of God the Father, the authority of God the Son, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit
There are essential matters and peripheral matters. This is not a peripheral matter. How many mistakes can an omniscient mind make? In history, geography, psychology? Zero. An omniscient mind cannot err in anything, because it’s all knowing. To say that there is one error in the Bible is an all-out attack on the Triune God! Is it dangerous to live downstream from a cracked dam? These critical “Evangelical” scholars say there are minor errors here and there in the Bible–no big deal. Dr. Farnell warned us of what’s coming!
What About Difficulties?
When we study Scripture we come upon many difficulties. But we do the same thing scientists do. We say I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m going to keep studying until I do. Like scientists who didn’t know how bees and butterflies could fly; they said it should be impossible. But they kept studying and now they understand. At first we couldn’t explain how Moses could have written the Law or who the Hittities were. But we continued to do research and now we know writing was around at that time and where they came from.
(He now gives examples of difficult passages and very plausible explanations. Things like one account saying there was one angel and another saying two. Solution is that wherever there are 2 there is always 1. Matthew did not say there was only 1.)
What About Errors in the Copies?
There are many errors in the copies. King James says Ahaziah was 42 in one passage, 22 in another. Also differences in the number of Solomon’s stalls. These errors are found only in copies. Nobody has found an original copy with an error. You might say well you don’t have an original copy. We could; we’re getting close. Somebody might say we can’t trust the Bible because of all the errors in the copies. What if somebody sent you this message:
“Y#O HAVE WON TEN MILLION DOLLAR”
Which of you wouldn’t collect your money? And the more you see…
“YO# HAVE WON TEN MILLION DOLLARS”
“YOU #AVE WON TEN MILLION DOLLARS”
…the more confident you are of the original!
(Giving resolution to mustard seek argument and also which day the Passover occurred (Friday vs. Thursday). For more resolutions to these passages, see http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Book-Bible-Difficulties/dp/0801071585)
It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand, it’s the part of the Bible I do understand that bothers me. Like: disciples all nations; how am I doing on that? Not very good? Like: you shall not kill. That’s clear. But we will 3,000 babies today, yesterday and the day before. That bothers me. We should not criticize the Bible; we should let the Bible criticize us!
* Note: These notes are compiled from the NAC 2014 LiveBlog. They were written in “real time” and are given here merely as an aid to the viewer. It is not a transcription.