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What Is the Bible?

The Bible is special because it’s God’s own word to us. The Bible explains: The world was created good. Human selfishness broke that goodness. Best of all, God loves people so much he’s made a way for us to be with him again forever.

I (Pastor Adam) can't recommend highly enough The Bible Project. Several years ago a pair of gifted seminary students set out to make the Bible known again to the culture. Their resources are all free, made possible by generous donors, all of whom want you to know the Bible as one unified story that leads to Jesus.

 

A lot of people doubt the Bible for a lot of different reasons. You know what else? A lot of really smart people trust the Bible is God's word to us. So who's right? Let's think about some questions people have asked me about the Bible.

 

Do I have to believe everything in the Bible to be a Christian? That depends what you mean by believe. What does it mean, for example, for a poem to be true? One third of the Bible is poetry. Maybe you know the story of Jonah, the guy who got swallowed by a whale (it was a big fish). Is that story "true"? Scholars differ on the genre of Jonah; what kind of story is it? It could be history, like a newspaper article. It’s certainly unusual for a man to be swallowed by a fish and live, but if we’re to believe in God at all, certainly God could keep a man alive inside a fish. Some scholars believe Jonah is a parable. That means it’s a story that teaches an important truth. There are lots of these in the Bible so that’s certainly a possibility. Finally, a few scholars have argued that Jonah is actually satire; that the point of the book is to poke fun at Jonah to show God’s people how not to be a prophet. So back to the question, is Jonah “true”? Certainly. Its message is important and true and Jesus even pointed to the story of Jonah to describe his own death and resurrection. For more study on ideas like this see “How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth” by Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart.

 

Has the Bible been copied and edited and changed so much over time that we no longer know what the original authors wrote? No. The Bible has been copied a bunch. However, it's precisely because it’s been copied so much we can know what we have today in our English Bibles is accurate. If this question peaks your interest see this video featuring Dr. Daniel Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary speaking at the Veritas Forum.

Do I have to accept the morality of the Bible to be a Christian? Maybe you are concerned because the Bible reflects some behaviors and attitudes we find objectionable. There is a lot of war, even war commanded by God. Some Bible passages dehumanize women. Two things to say about this. #1 - The Bible was written by people, 100%. #2 - The writers of the Bible were inspired by God the Spirit to write what they wrote, 100%. The Spirit inspired them, he didn’t dictate to them. The goal of studying the Bible - and this can be hard to do - is to both interpret it accurately and come under its authority. We interpret by asking questions like this, “What in so-and-so’s life or culture might have led him to write in the this way?” We submit by asking questions like this, “How is God calling me to be faithful to him through this Bible text?” The Bible may say things you disagree with. In the church we think hard and sometimes argue vigorously about many of those questions. This is what a church is for. We do this work together, iron sharpening iron as it were. We invite you to come along and help us to journey well together.

Dive Deeper

Additional Resources

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Learn the Bible with media tools that guide individuals and groups in studying its story. Use The Bible Project's videos and other free online resources.

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