Popular Objections to the Bible as God's Word

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April 30 2016
Author: Pastor Bill Henderson

Supplemental teaching for session One of Wayne Grudem’s 20 Life Transforming Truths

The Bible is God’s word – inspired, inerrant, authoritative, sufficient, clear, and necessary. This is what we evangelical Christians believe about the Bible because this is what the Bible teaches about itself. But we shouldn’t be surprised that when we talk this way about the Bible we may open ourselves up to misunderstanding or even misguided objections.


Three Popular Objections:

1. “You evangelical Christians are guilty of bibliolatry.” Years ago, another mainline Protestant Minister made this statement to me because I was returning to the Bible over and over to make my point. No we don’t worship the Bible either by bowing down to it or by somehow elevating it to the point that studying it is more important than developing a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We worship God alone. But we esteem the Bible as a unique book because God actively communicates through it: God has so identified Himself with His words that whatever someone does to God’s words (whether it is to obey them or disobey them) they do directly to God Himself.

2. The Word (who is Jesus) is what matters, not the word (which is the Bible). As pious as this might sound, it takes a different view of the word than the Word himself. In other words, Jesus would disagree with this objection. In his own day Jesus referred to Scripture as “the commandment of God” (Matthew 15:3) and as the “word of God” (Mark 7:13). He also said on one occasion: “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). In context, he was not attempting to prove to his opponents that this was so; instead, he was stating a bald fact already agreed upon. And to say “the Scripture cannot be broken” is to say that it is indestructible or infallible – no word of God can be falsified or invalidated. No word of God can be defective or broken. The point is that Jesus himself repeatedly quotes the Bible as his final and completely trustworthy authority.

3. It is circular reasoning to say that the Bible is God’s word because the Bible says it’s God’s word. Yes this is true but that doesn’t necessarily invalidate the reasoning. After all, any argument for ultimate authority, including scientific theories, must ultimately appeal to that authority for proof: otherwise, the authority would not be an absolute or highest authority. So everyone uses some kind of circular reasoning to defend the ultimate authority for beliefs. For example, someone may say, “My own powers of reasoning are my ultimate authority because it’s reasonable to think so.” This is circular reasoning. Or it may be argued, “Human logic is my ultimate authority because it is logical to say so.” Circular reasoning. Or a skeptic may say, “There can be no ultimate authority because I do not know of such an authority.” Again, circular reasoning. But while the ultimate standard for truth for Christians is God and His word, for most others it is something else – usually themselves.

So the debates about whether or not the Bible is God’s word hinge on this question: can you accept what the Bible claims about itself? Even though there are many very useful arguments that support the Bible’s self-authentication, like its historical reliability, its archeological attestation, and its prophetic accuracy, ultimately God’s Spirit must convince us that the Bible’s claims are true because sin has distorted how we perceive reality. Therefore, the work of God’s Spirit, overcoming the effects of sin, is required to persuade us that the Bible is the word of God and that the claims it makes for itself are true. Consequently, we can’t prove that the Bible is God’s word by appealing to any authority outside the Bible itself because such an authority must be superior to God – and there isn’t one.

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, thank you for your word because it is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path in a dark fallen world. Thank you for your initiative in superintending the original process of inspiration so that human authors were borne along by the Holy Spirit resulting in the perfect word of God. And thank you for breathing spiritual life into us so that by your Spirit we could put on the eye-glasses of faith and see. We worship you because in an age of uncertainty your word remains trustworthy and true as our final authority. Teach us the meaning of your promise that the ones you “look upon with favour are those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at your word.” In Jesus’ name. Amen

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