There is a division among Christians. It’s not something meaningless like when the rapture will happen. Many Christians believe that the entire Bible needs to be believed, while there are some who point out Old Testament stuff and say that there is no way we should believe the whole thing. So which is it? Should we as Jesus followers believe the whole Bible or just parts of it?
It’s easy to be quick to give an answer to this question: Should we believe the whole Bible? The short answer is easy. Yes, of course.
But that wouldn’t be giving the topic the consideration it’s due.
Before we go any further, let me make a few points. First, the question uses the inclusive term “we.” I’m interpreting this “we” to refer to those who follow Christ. So I’ll be making my answer in the same way. It seems counterproductive to try to expand the question to all humanity.
Second, I’ve often seen this question asked as a test. My experience is that the asker is trying to gauge how close other Christians are in belief to themselves. I can understand the need for orthodoxy, but it’s important to recognize that diversity is also a large part of the body of Christ. I hope that the question and responses from myself and the other writers cause us to recognize that we have different thoughts. And that’s okay.
Now. Let’s consider what the Bible is. It’s a collection, an anthology if you will. Different groups assembled this anthology over a long period of time. There are three major streams of Christian faiths: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. Each of these recognizes different books in their version of the Bible. Protestants, being the youngest stream, hold to sixty-six books. Some Orthodox traditions have over eighty books in their Bible. So the question becomes less clear when you look at the diversity in canon.
Also, this anthology isn’t just one kind of work. There are historical writings, legal codes, poetry, biographies, prophetic writings, and apocalyptic literature. Some of them are works of oral tradition wrote down long after the fact. Editors and translators spliced some books together or split them as they saw fit. So, because of its diversity, we need to read the Bible in a way that encompasses that diversity.
Not every book in the Bible is approachable in the same way. Nor should it. Apocalyptic literature, like Daniel or Revelation, is a good example. Apocalyptic literature is a genre that was popular in times of great oppression. To write without censorship, the writers use coded language and symbolism to make their points. They’re written deliberately to be confusing.
Also, it’s important to remember that while the books of the Bible are Divinely inspired, people penned them. The Holy Spirit was vital in giving the words to the various writers. But we cannot forget that God chose fallible people as his instruments. Not only that, but they were from a different culture who didn’t see the world in the same way we do. They accepted things about their lifestyle that we should not allow to continue today. These include things like slavery, gender inequality, and racial segregation.
Also, just because something is in the Bible that doesn’t mean it’s proscriptive. For a brief example, when Jesus said to pluck out the eye that causes stumbling (Matthew 5:29), he’s using metaphor.
So what do I mean when I say we should believe the whole Bible?
We should believe that the Bible is the best way to understand Christ. It gives us a window into the world that Jesus lived in. It shows us the cultural attitude of his day. It also gives us the historical cultural attitude of his people. When Jesus was alive, Israel’s national identity had been formed by foreign subjugation.
The best way to believe the Bible is as an understanding. It gives us a framework for the redemptive work that God is doing. It shows how man fell away from God. It also shows how God has worked throughout history to draw the entire world back to him. Finally, now that redemption has come through Christ, it gives us a guide to live in full communion with Him and with those around us.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:16)
I think the Bible is meant to be believed in its entirety. Everything that is “Scripture” is inspired by God. To believe only part of it is to disbelieve part of it, and which parts should one disbelieve? Perhaps the passage about Noah and the animals; that one is too fantastical by far. Or maybe the verse in which Jesus commands us to be harmless as doves; that one is pretty hard to live up to.
The problem with only believing part of Scripture is that you are holding the Bible to some other standard. Maybe that other standard is your own reasoning, influenced by the world telling you what is possible and what is not. Maybe that other standard is what you feel right then, as if one’s feelings can ever be fully trusted.
What makes the Bible amazing is that it is the message of God. It has been breathed out by Him. To disbelieve part of it is to miss out on part of the message.
On the other hand, I know others that also believe the entire Bible, as I do, and yet we end up with very different beliefs. Seeing the sheer scope of the differences of opinion about what the Bible says—by those that claim to value it as the Word of God—is enough to discourage anyone, to make us wonder what it even means to believe the Bible.
Will believing only part of the Bible disqualify you from being a child of God? Not at all. Jesus is the living Word of God that deserves your faith and holds you in His: Jesus himself, not the paper-and-ink Book, but the Person. But it’s still important to be able to trust the Scriptures, because they tell Jesus’ story (John 5:39).
Believing the whole Bible means that you don’t have a nagging wonder as to which of the promises of God should be believed. Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). This is good news.
But this doesn’t mean you turn off your brain and stop thinking for yourself. You still have a responsibility to handle Scripture correctly.
2 Tim. 2:15
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
This is something the Spirit of God will help us with. It would be a shame if, as Christians, the only communication we had with God was an ancient text and prayers that are met with silence. Jesus has sent his Spirit to be our guide “into all truth” (John 16:13).
Some of what the Bible says may not seem to make sense right away. And there will be no shortage of people around to tell you—with frightening certainty—what it means. The thing is… they might be wrong. Two people believing the same Bible with all their hearts often come away with different views, views that can’t both be right. It’s okay to question things, and to end up with more questions before we come to any answers. Hopefully those moments lead us to God, to rely on him and put our trust in him, rather than turn us away from God in confusion.
Believing all the Bible means that we have put our trust in a message that is greater than us. It’s no longer up to us to decide which parts are true and not, but to believe in the message and take responsibility for handling it as something sacred.
Francis King Jr.
Should we believe the whole Bible? My first instinct is to say yes, absolutely. But it isn’t so simple. I was always taught to believe that everything in the Bible is true, and I still believe that. But I no longer think that everything was meant to be taken at face value.
What is and what is not allegory I cannot say. However, I can say that I think that most of the extraordinary things in the Bible did happen. I believe that we all agree about the legitimacy of Christ’s miracles. Even huge events like the plagues upon Egypt, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the flood, I believe all happened. But stories like that of Adam and Eve I hesitate to take as literal fact. And I am fairly certain that many of the visions from Revelation are not going to play out exactly as described.
Another point of contention is Paul’s letters. While I believe that he wrote them under the influence of the Holy Spirit, there are certainly some parts of them where he speaks for himself. Such as those telling people to remain single instead of get married and saying that women in the church should keep silent don’t really play so well in modern times. While both of those statements had valid historical contexts, in this day and age I don’t feel like we need to give them much thought.
I suppose that my point is that I believe the Bible is completely, divinely inspired, but I don’t believe that the Divine completely shies away from metaphor, and I do not think that every part is totally free from human influence. But as a whole, yes, we should believe the whole Bible, because metaphor or not, the whole Book is useful for our united pursuit of the ideal of Jesus Christ.
If you look at society today, you will probably see that some people don’t believe the whole Bible, and only parts of it. While others believe it entirely. It’s understandable if you’re a modern day Christian, and you don’t do the Old Testament laws because those laws were for the Israelites, and not for Christians.
I think we should believe the whole Bible because in 2 Timothy 3:16 it says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” This is true and even the Old Testament has things that we can learn from.
For example, the story of Gideon. God used a man who wasn’t confident in himself and thought that his clan was going to die. He ended up leading the Israelites to defeat the Midianites through the help of God. Even though Gideon thought he was the lowest of the lows, God still used him to show that our Lord can use you even if you don’t think he will.
The whole Bible has a lot to offer us, and I think we shouldn’t ignore what God wants us to know about it in His Word. Not believing some of the Bible will lead to doubting all of it The Bible is not written by human ideas or thoughts, but it’s God’s Word given word for word by the Holy Spirit to human writers. If any of it were human thoughts, we wouldn’t be able to trust it, and it would have errors, but it doesn’t.
As in every community article I host, I like to cut straight to the core. As Christ followers, we need to believe the whole Bible, period. Also, I want to point out that I am talking about the Holy Bible which contains sixty-six books and is the complete canon for Christians. You cannot pick and choose what you do not like. If something does not seem correct then read it in context, compare it to other scripture, ask someone who is well-versed in the Bible. Comment on one of our articles with your question, and we will get back to you.
But do not let confusion about something or not liking something that is written dissuade you from believing the entire Bible. If we cannot believe all of scripture then we cannot believe any of it. You might as well throw it out of the window and into a dumpster at that point. If the entire world being flooded by God and every kind of animal on an ark seems like a fairy tale to you then how can you believe God made everything?
Stuff like that is child’s play to Him. God is limitless and everything is possible with Him (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27). Silas Green and Josh Mors nailed it when he brought up 2 Timothy 3:16. Heck, that verse is referring to the Old Testament since not much of the New Testament was officially scripture yet. Jesus even referenced the Old Testament many times. We may not be held by the Old Testament covenant anymore due to Jesus, but we are to believe all of it.