(This was formerly titled: Let’s Be Honest About Bible Errors)
In II Timothy it says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. Amen. That is what I believe about the Bible. I read, study, and rely heavily upon the Bible for godly living. Jude 1:3 charges us to “contend for the faith”, or fight for the faith. But does that mean we should fight dirty by lying or covering up things about the Bible that we are afraid to admit? A few weeks ago I witnessed a State Officer in the Church of God (Cleveland) preach a sermon exalting the Bible. I began to get very uneasy as he continued to exalt the Bible and blur the lines between what was God and what was the Bible. Finally, He held the Bible high in the air, quoted John 1:1-2 and said, “This is God, right here!” Wow. That was so wrong. Like so many Bible-idolizing preachers have done before, he took things way too far.
Being “God-inspired” and being “God-written” are two separate terms that are vastly different from each other. They should never be confused. Does “God-breathed” mean that the book that has been copied and handed down to us is free from copyist’s mistakes, textual variations, and inaccuracies? I’ve written about this before in my earlier post “Dealing With Misquotes And Warts In Scripture” Nevertheless, I sense the need to address this issue again and point out some new things. I will be giving some examples of discrepancies to show that although the Bible is God-inspired, it is NOT God-written.
Lying, covering-up, glossing-over, or ignoring the truth about the Bible is tantamount to utterly shattering the foundation of those whose faith we are trying to build. Lying leads to idolatry, because the liar puts his or her faith into the lie instead of God to protect them from calamity. When the lie is exposed, their idol is shattered along with their faith. I have a genuine compassion for those who have been subjected to Bible-Idolization. Not only is their faith prone to shatter, they are also sometimes the subjects of spiritual abuse, manipulation, and control. This is why Bible-Idolatry is so dangerous.
Would your faith in Jesus Christ crumble if you came across something in the Bible that was contradictory or wrong? What if you found over 50 inacurracies, 100, 300? Psalms 12:6 says the words of the Lord are flawless. I don’t doubt that. But what words are the Psalms speaking about? Is it the copy that you hold in your hands? (I’ll write about this later). When I went to seminary, I saw people’s faith become shattered right before my very eyes. Why? Because they were Bible-idolizers. They didn’t even know it. They had been taught by preachers that the Bible they held in their hands had no inaccuracies and that it was completely void of mistakes or errors. They called it inerrant. They treated it like it was a magic book of formulas (If you do this, mixed with that, then “poof”, this has to happen). The Bible is not an inerrant, magic book. It’s primarily a book about relationships, not formulas. For them, it subtly crossed-over from being divinely inspired to being divine. Unknowingly, they Deified the Bible. The Bible is not God. Yet, they made it equal to the Spirit of God.
Here’s the test for someone infected with Bible Idolatry: You ask them, “Do you have faith in the Bible, or do you faith in God?”. Although they may have faith in both, they are unable to make any kind of separation between the two. You see, both the Bible and the Holy Spirit have authority; but they don’t have equal authority. The Bible’s authority comes FROM the Holy Spirit. But, many believers today conduct themselves as if the Holy Spirit’s authority came from the Bible. I realize that they are closely linked, but the danger comes when a person begins to think they are equal. They won’t admit it, but in their minds the two are equal. (I have to ask, does having someone read your letters and read your emails equal conversing directly with you?) They have made the Bible equal to God. They reply, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Did the Old Testament heroes of the faith have a Bible? No, but they certainly had great faith in God! Look at Hebrews 11. Where did their faith come from? Was their faith based on written words, or was it based on hearing the word of the Spirit? Jesus said, “You must be born-again”. You are born through the Spirit. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Bible-Idolizer’s experience is one of knowing God strictly through study of the Bible, instead of knowing God’s Spirit and letting Him explain things found in the Bible. I met a man in Euharlee who was a Muslim and had only read about Jesus in the Koran. God spoke to him in a dream that Jesus Christ was the way. He started following Jesus, talking to Him, and then got a Bible. The Bible is one of God’s weapons, but the Spirit is always the power.
In many ways Bible-Idolizers and their churches have replaced the Spirit of God with the Bible. They have ten Bible studies for every prayer meeting. They don’t even know how to relate to God in prayer. They pray in formulas and patterns thinking they are following the Bible. They place more emphasis on Bible studies, sermons, fellowship gatherings, outreaches, missions. They feel good because they are “doing” things for God, about God, to God, but they don’t know what it’s like to stand still and simply “be” with God.
Jesus certainly honored and used the scriptures, but not as some magic shield. Read about Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11 and don’t overlook the first line…He was LED BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness. If the Spirit led him into the wilderness, then what preserved Him and got Him out? Was it the Bible? What preserved Him when Satan tempted Him? Was it the magic of quoting a memorized set of biblical passages outloud? No. The Bible was the weapon of choice at that moment, but the Spirit was the Power. Jesus was led by the Spirit to USE the Bible. You can USE and take advantage of the Bible, but you cannot control the Spirit! The Spirit is superior and will USE you! If a scripture passage “jumps out” to you and gives hope, illumination, or power, it is not the power of the Bible…It is the power of the Spirit who USES the Bible. The power of being submitted and led by the Spirit is what preserved Jesus in the wilderness. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and it was the power of the Spirit that got Him out also. Ask yourself, did Jesus later quote scripture when He cast out devils? No. He used other weapons such as prayer and fasting, etc. But He always stayed submitted to the power of the Spirit.
I have always been taught that the Holy Spirit would never ask us to do anything contrary to the written word. We’re taught that the Holy Spirit will not and cannot ever cross the authority of the scriptures. This teaching feels safe, defined, and comforting. However, this is another man-made teaching that makes the scriptures seem either superior or equal to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is superior. As I wrote earlier, “The scriptures authority comes FROM the Holy Spirit. Look at the examples below.
So, was Peter a follower first of the written word, or a follower first of the Spirit who wrote the words? Did Peter ever have to choose between the two? Yep! Read Acts 10: 9-22. The written word of the Lord commanded Peter to never eat unclean animals. These commands were not just given once, but twice, making them witnessed, established laws of God. But what happened? The Spirit told Peter to eat the unclean animals. The Spirit commanded Peter to no longer call “unclean” what God has now declared “clean”. The message contained in the vision was in violation of God’s written laws. The Spirit was telling Peter to go against the written word. Am I right about it? Let me hear you preach that! I said that the Spirit was telling Peter to go against the established, written word of God…(I don’t hear many “amens” right now. Truth be told, it wasn’t a pleasant realization for me either.) Our theology today tells us that Peter should have resisted the voice and yelled out, “IT IS WRITTEN!” Our theology today tells us that the Holy Spirit is always governed by the written word. Hmmm. Peter had to take some time to digest all of this. He would be labled a “heretic” by the Jews. The written scripture was perfectly clear on this matter, but the Spirit was telling Peter to disobey what he had been taught in the scriptures.
Peter chose to follow the voice of the Spirit over and against the clear written commands of God. I’m a gentile and I’m glad Peter was not a Bible-idolizer. Peter was a man who practiced listening to the voice of the Spirit first and foremost. Why? Because Peter was a man who had been born-again by the Spirit. If you are birthed by the Spirit, doesn’t it make sense that you should live by the Spirit, be taught by the Spirit, and listen first to the voice of the Spirit? Peter did. Peter was the guy who went against the laws of nature choosing to obey the voice that said “Come”. He walked on water. Now, He was stepping out of the boat of scripture-Law to follow that same voice.
How about Hosea? The Spirit told him expressly to go out and marry a whore that would cheat on him! Does that sound contrary to good biblical advice? “They must not marry women defiled by prostitution or divorced from their husbands, because priests are holy to their God.”–Lev. 21:7. Although this was a command for priests, it was used as sound, biblical advice. Was marrying a spouse that you knew would cheat a wise thing to do? Doesn’t Proverbs warn us about people like this? In spite of written warnings in the Bible, Hosea chose to obey the Spirit. What about King David, Isaiah, and Jesus? They all did things that were against the clear written words. They followed the voice of the Spirit first and foremost. I’m not saying to abandon the Bible; God forbid! I’m saying that we need to change our ways and be attuned to the voice of the Spirit first and foremost.
Some of you may think that I’m going down a dangerous, slippery slope by pointing out the truth. I realize that there are preachers like Pastor Sam Hinn (brother of Benny Hinn) who could have used this to justify their “God said we’re soulmates” adultery. What was one way that Peter’s “contrary-to-the-written-word” truth was different from Sam’s “God-said” statements? Peter’s revelation was not hidden but brought openly before the community of believers. Some accepted it, some rejected it. Nevertheless, that is a safeguard. Hosea was also OPEN about what God said, but I doubt that he got a lot of support…probably a small wedding party. If you’re worried about a slippery slope, let me tell you about the slope we are already on. Because of this deification of the Bible, entire denominations have used the scriptures to nullify and rule out the power of the Holy Spirit today. We hear denominational leaders tell us, “The Bible says, When that which is PERFECT is come, then that which is in part shall be done away”. They say that the perfect is the Bible, so stop your tongues, stop your prophesying, stop trying to hear from God. Forget about dreams and visions. God now only speaks through His Word! For them, the Bible cannot have human mistakes because it has been deified. It has replaced what the Holy Spirit used to do in the Book of Acts. We have allowed the letter to rule over the Spirit. This is just as true in many “Spirit-filled” churches as well (Remember the preacher in the first paragraph.) That is the slope we have come down.
I’m not writing this to challenge your faith. I’m doing this to ask what is the basis of your faith.
So, what are some of the “cracks” I’ve come across?
1. Take a staff, or don’t take a staff? Mark 6:8 says, “and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff– no bread, no bag, no money in their belt”. Jesus tells them to take a staff. Now, let’s look at the same exact event in Matthew 10:9-10. “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.” Jesus told them not to take a staff. One of these readings is false. They cannot both be inerrant. The fact is, the Bible never calls itself inerrant, neither should we. The “Inerrant Word of the Lord” is a man-made idolatrous title that has become ingrained and indoctrinated into our minds and theology. We think Christianity will crumble if the Bible is shown to be filled with the mistakes of humans. Hogwash! True Christianity is built on the Spirit which indwells us.
2. In 2Kings 24:8 we find, “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.”. However, 2Chronicles 36:9 tells us about the same king and plainly states, “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” So, was he eight or eighteen when he became King? Was he a child or a young man? One of these scriptures is false. Does this bother you? If you have been brainwashed into being a Bible-Idolizer, then it will bother you. If your faith is built upon the Rock, the Spirit of God that you know and have personally experienced, then you will not be moved.
3. How many people went into Egypt? Moses said it was 70. Stephen said it was 75. Genesis 46:27 says, “With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.” Acts 7:14 says, “Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all.” Was it 70 or 75? Were 75 invited, but only 70 made the journey? Did 5 people die along the way? No. Why is this important? Because Genesis is quoting from the Mosaic (Hebrew) Text of the Old Testament and Stephen in Acts was quoting directly from the Septuagint (Greek) Text of the Old Testament. The Septuagint later records 5 more names that the Mosaic doesn’t include. One of the Old Testament texts is wrong, but both of them are in your Bible! If you are going to hold on to your idolatry of deistic biblical inerrancy, then you are going to have to pick which biblical text you want to dance with and then deny the other.
4. Was David the 7th or the 8th child of Jesse? 1 Samuel 16:10-11, “Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. According to this passage of scripture, David is clearly the eighth and youngest. However, 1 Chronicles 2: 13-15 clearly states, “Jesse was the father of Eliab his firstborn; the second son was Abinadab, the third Shimea, the fourth Nethanel, the fifth Raddai, the sixth Ozem and the seventh David.” One of these is wrong.
5. Who was the father of Shelah? According to Genesis 10: 24, “Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber.” Yet Luke 3:35-36 tells us something different, “the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad,” Luke says Cainan was the direct father of Shelah and that Arphaxad was his Grandpa! Both accounts show that Eber was Shelah’s son, so we know that they weren’t skipping generations. Is this just a simple mistake? No, once again it is a case of the Bible using two different Old Testament texts. Genesis uses the Mosaic (Hebrew) Text while Luke quotes directly from the Septuagint (Greek) Text of his day. One of these two passages is in error.
There are dozens more. However, the message, the theme, the truth of the Scriptures is not diminished by any of these errors. That is what is so amazing to me. In spite of finding over 300 errors, not one of them affects the theme, the message, or the essential truth of the scriptures. Not a single one. It contains the error of men and the truth of God rolled into one story. God has taken a mess and turned it into a “Mess-terpiece”. That is the redemption story!!! Instead of lying, hiding, and shying away from the Bible’s errors, we should be open and use it as the object lesson of redemption that God meant for it to be.
So, can we at least stop deifying the Bible from the pulpit, openly admit the problems, repent for our idolatry, and return to seeking the Spirit first? I am not anti-Bible at all, I am anti-Bible Idolatry.
If you’re going to get emotional about this, please remember that the majority of us have been either ignorant or blind about Bible Idolatry. If you chose to be angry, then be mad that the Bible-Idolaters who actually knew better, have seared their conscience, and have deliberately lied from the pulpit saying that the scriptures are inerrant, without contradiction, and are divine. Be mad that there are those who don’t believe that the preaching of the gospel is powerful enough, but that we must also cover the bible’s errors. Be sad that there are those whose ignorant preaching has led to the shattering of the faith of many who were led into Bible Idolatry. Be mad at principalities and powers who have equated the scriptures with God and have not understood what “God’s Word” really is. Be sad that the Spirit of God has been replaced in many churches with the Bible. Be aware that we have 10 Bible studies for every prayer meeting. Did the Church in Acts begin with a bible study or a prayer meeting? Where are our priorities? Be contrite that the Church would rather interface with the book, than to interface directly with the Author of all truth. Be in sorrow that our churches are shallow, lifeless, and in many ways dead. We have becomes houses of idolatry replacing the Creator with the created. We no longer seek Him first in order to understand, interpret, and sort through the book. Rather, we seek the book in order to understand and interpret Him. You can be angry, but please do not sin. Most of all be compassionate, allow for repentance and grace to capture their hearts…For I too was once a Bible-Idolizer. Be angry and sin not.
Final word: Let’s stop exalting the weapon to a place of being equal with the Warrior who wields it.
Related Articles: Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer