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Many are familiar with the arguments that suggest not only did God inspire the writers of the Bible but that God oversaw that the original written words were without error. Textual criticism tells us what over 99 percent of the original words of the Bible were, but differences don’t change any doctrines. But, God’s respect for freedom could allow a writer’s misinformed scientific or moral view to creep into the Bible. Is it worth the damage done to insist the Bible doesn’t have errors, when Jesus ultimately aspired to unite rather than divide people?

Jesus cared more what changes loving your neighbor lead to than religious folks adhering to certain beliefs to honor God. Eat meat or don’t eat meat to visibly dissociate from false gods or idols (I Cor. 8). Individuals and congregations draw lines in the sand when it comes to how we view the Bible. Such divisiveness isn’t exactly inspirational to others. 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. Turning the other cheek isn’t always appropriate. Jesus when leaving this earth didn’t promise to leave us with a Bible but His Spirit so we might be able to discern evil from good (Jn. 14:16).

One must admit to assume the Bible is without error requires some faith anyway since not provable. One must believe that God inspired certain authors to write without any possibilities of hearing God incorrectly, and then God inspired others to know over time which Books should only be recognized as Scriptures. One doesn’t need to be a liberal to believe biblical writers might have misunderstood God’s desires and misidentified God’s actions. God obviously is a respecter of freedom or heroes of the Bible wouldn’t be allowed to murder, commit adultery, etc.

On the other hand 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. Admittedly, we don’t look to all writings for spiritual inspiration. “Thus says the Lord” was used thousands of time by the prophets in the OT. This was similar to writing “Thus says King…” which was expected to be obeyed and not questioned. Death was a consequence for falsely claiming to speak for God (Deut. 18:20-22). And the Bible gains credibility by throwing its own under the bus when appropriate or not rewriting facts to make a story more believable. Women had very little credibility during this time, so if you are going to make up a resurrection story you don’t report a woman being the first eyewitness unless Mary was.

Devoted archeologists don’t purposely misrepresent their findings when suggesting archaeology proves the accuracy of the Bible or to the contrary. It is true if we say the Bible has errors, we are left to discern which writings are inspired by God. But, we have to use judgment regardless since interpretations are fallible. We can’t be positive the Apostle Paul taught that marriage relationships were to be egalitarian or hierarchical in nature. God never intended a Book to replace our relationship with God. We have an internal moral compass to discern good from evil.

I must admit that 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, problems with the Bible could be mostly solve if we would only consider one another’s opinion gracefully, so to work out our own convictions. If the Bible does have errors, this doesn’t lead to all views of God being equal or valid. Our hearts tells us a loving God would never advocate the violation of the rights of others. I believe we are better off with the Bible, but we don’t have to insist the Bible is without errors. The main message is crystal clear. Read the Bible with an open mind and enjoy having a relationship with your Creator.

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