Aren’t We Better Off With A Fallible Than Inspired Bible?
by Mike Edwards
The truth is we can’t prove God somehow controlled the views of the writers to be correct about God. Some may define God’s inspiration only as motivating writers to share their experiences with God, but God didn’t necessarily control or approved all written about God. Anyway, one is either convinced God controlled the words of the Bible to accurately portray God, or the Bible is uncontrolled writings which encourages openly contemplating what a loving God is really like.
Even if you believe God inspired every word of the Bible, it is complicated.
We don’t possess the original manuscripts but only what was copied from the original. Did God’s inspiration control that process? The many translations/versions of the Bible we have today suggest copying is not an exact process. Even if we had the original autographs, interpretation is still required. Scholars who believe in the authority of Scriptures disagree what the Bible says about critical issues such as homosexuality, gender roles, divorce, Hell, etc. Interpretations are not infallible, but many don’t begin a discussion with “I may be wrong?”
What may be the main reason many believe the Bible is inspired?
It is suggested if the Bible isn’t inspired, “then you can’t know God for sure.” This implies interpretations are infallible which of course they aren’t. We aren’t totally clueless! Universal moral outrage hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people because they don’t share your beliefs unless a supposed infallible Book supposedly speaks for God? We just know we ought to treat others like we want to be treated.
Uncertainty doesn’t mean anything goes. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves — am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. Clearly, Bible or no Bible, not everything goes especially if it contradicts your moral sense of a loving God.
Not questioning the Bible can lead to violence’s in God’s name.
When you regard the Bible as the revealed Word of God, this can lead to not questioning actions contributed to God. Does God really approved all actions contributed to God in the Bible? Not questioning if writers always portrayed God accurately has led to justifying killing infidels in the name of God. God’s supposed warlike attitudes in the Old Testament have been used to justify wars throughout history. Imagine if terrorists admitted that God possibly didn’t approve of actions they interpret as denying freedom of beliefs!
Many reject God for the wrong reasons because of claims made about God.
An inspired Bible has led to claims about God that don’t make moral sense to many. Supposed “inspired interpretations” has led to putting men in leadership positions over women which has encouraged historical dominance on the man’s part. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. When God is portrayed as less than perfectly loving, understandably this can lead to atheism or rejecting God. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better.
Didn’t Jesus though say the Bible was inspired?
Does John 5:45–46 claim that Jesus said believing in Jesus is believing what Moses wrote? This doesn’t confirm that Moses or any OT writer always wrote perfectly about God. Jesus seemed to correct OT laws that didn’t fully or correctly convey God’s ways (Mt 5). Some scholars suggest Jesus was simply expanding or interpreting correctly OT laws. The OT and the Bible is valuable because it gets us talking about what a loving God is really like. Regardless, we must use common moral sense because ancient literature requires interpretation.
Aren’t we better off with a fallible than infallible Bible?
A universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated is one way a Creator could communicate what is good versus evil. Choose the claim or interpretation about God that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. Moral intuitions are fallible but at least they should join the party of fallible interpretations. We will disagree but civil discussions are possible. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but it is better to challenge God than not question God and be wrong. A different view of God, than claimed by many Bible folks, may be the help our world needs in loving others like we want to be loved.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org