One must believe, to say the Bible is without error, that God inspired certain authors to write without any possibilities of misunderstanding God for their own reasons and then God inspired others to know over time which Books should only be recognized as Scriptures. One doesn’t need to be a skeptic to accept that God’s uncontrolling love certainly can allow a writer’s misinformed scientific or moral view to creep into the Bible. Is it worth the damage to insist the Bible doesn’t have errors, when God surely aspires to unite not divide people?
But, if the Bible has errors does that mean we are unable to discern truth from fiction in the Bible?
The reality is much of the Bible is subject to interpretations which obviously are not infallible. Jesus wasn’t recommending domestic violence when saying to turn the other cheek. Scholars who believe in the trustworthiness of the Bible differ if the Bible teaches equalitarian or hierarchical relationships in marriage. Scholars disagree if Genesis was a literal historical account or allegory to convey important spiritual truths. The reality is much of reading the Bible is discerning spiritual truths applicable to our circumstances. Claiming the Bible is inerrant doesn’t do away with that process.
Dogmatism only divides when differences exist in interpretations with others.
Many problems with the Bible could be solved if we would only consider one another’s opinion gracefully, so to work out our own convictions. I am convinced we should err on the side of the interpretation that seems plausible based on what a loving God would be like humanly speaking. Human reasoning is not the enemy. We cannot prove God exists scientifically or otherwise. But there is something very real in the hearts of millions who have a hope deep down inside them that suggest the possibility of a loving God. The hope for a tyrannical God is non-existent. God said be perfect like me (Mt. 5:48). This statement is meaningless unless God’s love is the same as perfect human love.
But, the main message of the Bible is crystal clear.
Love others like you want to be loved for a better world. We could focus on commonalities and not differences. Just because we say the Bible may have errors and must be read with discernment doesn’t lead to all views of God being equal or valid. Our hearts tell us a loving God would never advocate the violation of the rights of others. We all have an internal moral compass to discern good from evil. We know religious extremists and terrorists are wrong because a loving God would not demand certain personal beliefs or be ostracized or beheaded. God created freedom because true love cannot be forced.
One must admit to assume the Bible is without error requires some faith since not provable. But, in the Bible’s defense we don’t question the reliability of Julius Caesar’s exploits in the Gallic Wars though the manuscript reliability of all ancient literature is far less than the New Testament. “Thus says the Lord” was used thousands of time by the prophets in the OT, which was similar to writing “Thus says King…” Such edicts were expected to be obeyed and not questioned. Death was a consequence for falsely claiming to speak for God (Deut. 18:20-22).
The Bible at first reading may seem to justify genocide, misogyny, slavery, or other atrocities. There are plausible interpretations often which don’t portray God in such a negative light. But, we don’t have to insist the writers of the Bible didn’t at times misunderstand or misrepresent God at time for selfish reasons. The writers could have been working out their relationship with God as we are. Read the Bible with an open mind. Giving the Bible almost supernatural qualities can lead to worshipping a Book and not who the Book is about.
The Bible was never to replace one’s relationship with God for comfort and guidance.