Can the Bible be trusted by modern or progressive thinkers?
When viewing contradictions in the Bible — whether it be contradictions within the text itself or contradictions with science and history — people are left wondering if they can even trust the Bible.
Before discussing if the Bible can be trusted, it’s worth reflecting on what it means to trust the Bible in the first place. Does it mean to trust the Bible as an inerrant document that is 100% God inspired? Or does it mean to trust that the Bible is a significant document about faith and life that holds a lot of value for modern Christian believers?
As theologian and Bible scholar Dr. Peter Enns puts it:
I also balk a bit at the thought of “trusting” the Bible. I understand the point, but perhaps the Bible shouldn’t be the object of our trust to begin with. Maybe — as the Bible repeatedly says — the object of our trust is God alone.
And God and the Bible aren’t the same things.
Calling the Bible “God’s word” doesn’t elevate it to an object worthy of trust. Rather, as I see it, the Bible bears witness to God. Christians will say that the Bible bears witness ultimately to what God has done in Christ.
But here’s the catch: The Bible bears witness in ancient and culturally diverse ways. That’s why the Bible is such a “mess.” And that is why working out how the Bible functions in the life of faith is an ongoing task.
How can modern thinkers work on trusting the Bible?
For modern or progressive thinkers wondering if the Bible can be trusted, it could be helpful to take Dr. Enns’ perspective and to understand the Bible as a witness to God. As a witness, it represents a lot. It represents thousands of years of different cultures’ thoughts and opinions on laws, morals and interpretations of God’s will.
According to Dr. Enns, it’s this fact that makes the Bible more worthy of reflection rather than detracting from its credibility. If we take the Bible’s message seriously, we take it off the pedestal where we should’ve been keeping God all along and we learn how to seriously wrestle with and engage with the text of the Bible as a living document, instead of something stale, outdated and dead.
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At Unfiltered Radio, we frequently explore what it means to be an authentic follower of Christ. This includes responding to the question of if the Bible be trusted. Check out our podcast to join us as we wrestle with hard questions like this one.